ICT ACCESS AND e-SERVICES FOR HINTERLAND, POOR AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES

BACKGROUND & RATIONALE

The connections between ICT and a green economy have been recognised by the Global Coalition on ICT and Climate Change which said that: “ICT can enable low-carbon economies,” and added, “Twenty-First Century governments, regulators and businesses cannot afford to exclude ICT from policy or business initiatives to green our global economy”.

“The Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states.”  – UN Special Rapporteur, Frank La Rue

A recent Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) Report stated that “ICT can enable a 20% reduction in global CO2e emissions by 2030, holding emissions at 2015 levels”.  An assessment of eight economic sectors – energy, food, manufacturing, health, building, work, learning and logistics – shows that ICT could generate over US$11 Trillion in economic benefits per year by 2030, the equivalent of China’s expected annual GDP in 2015.

Guyana has made steady progress in its development and towards reducing extreme and moderate poverty.  However, there still remains several challenges including access to services, material income, capital, and/or opportunities. Poverty continues to linger in both urban and rural areas, particularly in the hinterland (rural interior).

Structural rigidities and cost barriers inhibit the full immediate integration of hinterland communities with the coastland’s social and economic structures. As a result, certain public services are not easily accessible to residents in these areas.

Within the hinterland there is a high concentration of indigenous peoples.  This group constitutes nine sub-groups spread across an estimated 187 communities at varying stages of integration with the national economy. The communities are typically characterized by the co-existence of well-preserved traditional lifestyles, large forested land ownership, and cultural freedoms with various kinds of subsistence/incoming generating activities.  The Amerindian/indigenous population constitutes 9.2 percent of Guyana’s total population.

Poor communities can also be found scattered in urban coastal and rural coastal areas.  These people have similar needs to those in the rural interior.

The Government of Guyana (GoG) is fully committed to the social, economic, and environmental development of Guyana.  The GoG is determined to bridge the developmental gaps by ensuring that redistribution measures benefit all.

On November 9th, 2009, the Government of Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) “regarding cooperation on issues related to the fight against climate change, the protection of biodiversity, and the enhancement of sustainable development”.  Under the Guyana-Norway partnership, Guyana can earn up to US$250M for the provision of forest/climate services and the limiting of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The payments earned are channeled through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) which was established as a multi-contributor trust fund for the financing of activities under the Government’s Low Carbon sustainability programme.

One very important element of this strategy is the drive to enable every citizen to access high quality ICT services anywhere in Guyana.  This translates into enhanced connectivity and continuous training for individuals, schools/institutes and communities.

On average, Guyana’s fixed-line teledensity of 20%, mobile penetration of 22% and internet usage of 30.3% compare to Latin American averages.  However, there exists a significant digital divide throughout Guyana.  Currently, internet and broadband infrastructure are concentrated in the coastal region with sparse and expensive connectivity options in inland areas and remote communities.

There is limited private sector interest in servicing these areas which means that there is a need for public sector intervention in order to provide the enabling environment for hinterland, poor and remote communities to access ICT and e-Services.

For a truly advanced and inclusive digital society, the facilitation and provision of e-services becomes integral to social, economic and environmental development.

The GoG intends to utilise funds from the GRIF to bridge the digital divide, stimulate equitable and sustainable development, boost economic growth, and facilitate environmental balance and social inclusion.

 

OBJECTIVES

  • Objective 1 – Conduct a baseline and feasibility study to inform the development of a full project document
  • Objective 2 – Develop a full Project Document
  • Objective 3 – Capacity assessment and development of the e-Government Unit of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to directly manage and implement the full project

 

The Implementing Entity for the project will be the e-Government Department of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications.  The e-Government Unit will be responsible for:-

  • Actual execution of project activities
  • Achievement of stated outputs, outcomes and impacts
  • Implementation of identified risk mitigation strategies
  • Adherence to all relevant laws, policies and requirements
  • Reporting on project progress
  • Procurement and supervision of all resources, including consultants

 

The UNDP is the Partner Entity to the project under the GRIF Framework and will be responsible for quality assurance, and for providing social, fiduciary, and environmental safeguards and best practices into the design and implementation of the project.

 


PRESS CONFERENCE & SIGNING OF CONTRACT FOR NATIONAL ICT NEEDS ASSESSMENT PROJECT

The Government of Guyana, facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), entered into a crucial agreement on Friday 24th June, 2016 with consultancy firm Detecon International GmbH to conduct a needs assessment in Guyana titled “ICT Access and e-Services for Hinterland, Poor and Remote Communities”.

Detecon International GmbH, headquartered in Germany, provides management and technology consultancy services.   It emerged in July 2002 from the merger of two consulting firms, Diebold and DETECON, and is a division of Deutsche Telekom.

The project, commenced on 24th June, 2016, is a baseline ICT study to determine, among other things, what infrastructure, technical capacity, and legal framework already exist in poor, remote and unserved areas in Guyana.  The analysis will set the stage for a more expansive programme to close the gaps identified.  The ultimate goal is to provide the wherewithal for citizens living and working in any part of Guyana, from the North West District to South Rupununi, to have access to eGovernment services.

These projects were funded by the Guyana Redd+ Investment Fund (GRIF), for which the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) is a partner entity.  As such, Resident UNDP Coordinator, Khadija Musa, co-signed the agreement alongside Minister of Public Telecommunications, Hon. Catherine Hughes and Mr. Stephan Dieter, Detecon International GmbH’s representative.

Representatives of the Ministry, the UNDP and other affiliated parties were on hand to interface with the Media.  The venue was the Boardroom of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, Colgrain House, Camp St., Georgetown, and the proceedings commenced at 11.30 am.