Guyana to be further transformed through ICT in 2018

The Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector will see further improvements in 2018, after two years, of unprecedented achievements, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes during her Budget 2018 presentation today.

Addressing the National Assembly, Minister Hughes highlighted a number of initiatives that will be undertaken next year towards continuing the transformation of ICT. These include a National Broadband Project, a National ICT Strategy and Human capital development.

The National Broadband Project is a proposed three-year venture, slated to begin in the latter half of 2018. Minister Hughes said that this project will see the upgrading of the Network to enable an equitable delivery of service to citizens in the areas of education, health, security, government administration, business, citizenship and immigration.

She explained that Cabinet has approved both the application for the loan from the China Export-Import (EXIM) Bank and the award of the contract to Huawei Technologies of China. According to the Public Telecommunications Minister, the contract has been signed and execution will begin as soon as EXIM bank approves the loan.

Meanwhile, a 10-year National ICT Strategy will see the staggered reduction of unemployment, and improved delivery of government-related services, Minister Hughes said. The success of this plan is based on two fundamental pillars; the growth of an independent ICT sector; and its application as a cross-cutting component in all other sectors, including governance, science, innovation and the creative industries.

Also in 2018, the Public Telecommunications Ministry in collaboration with the Ministries of Business and Education will begin aa review of the current legislation as it pertains to Intellectual Property Protection. Minister Hughes emphasised that Guyana would be unable to position itself as a credible offshore provider of ICT and other knowledge-based services unless our investors and potential clients are certain that their intellectual assets would be protected.

The ministry has also been working on a number of preparatory measures for the establishment of a Sector Regulator following the passage of the Telecommunications Act 2016. This will require negotiating for liberalisation of the sector and preparation of the necessary guidelines which will be managed by the new Telecommunications Agency overseeing the sector, Minister Hughes said. She explained that preparations for this new agency are moving apace. Additionally, the Commencement Order for the establishment of the Telecommunications Agency has been approved and will be gazetted shortly.

As it relates to Human Capital Development the ministry will again collaborate with the Education and Business ministries and the private sector to develop comprehensive training programmes to develop a knowledge-driven, e-ready populace equipped to compete for employment domestically, in the region, and further afield.

Citizen outreach and ICT awareness activities have also been launched with the creation of an internal media platform to disseminate information and encourage feedback and collaboration. The Ministry of Public Telecommunications has also interfaced with enterprising young people to assist them in converting their initiatives income generators. There have also been several collaborations with the private sector to develop short-term community-based training programmes to equip citizens with ICT skills.

Minister Hughes also outlined several other projected outcomes for 2018 including the completion of legislation for Electronic Transactions and Data Protection to be submitted to Parliament, a curriculum for Animation and Game Design training and the preliminary design and completed feasibility study for an ICT Park among others
Source: Gabreila Patram – DPI



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