65 ICT hubs to be completed by month-end
Access to the internet for hinterland and riverine communities is becoming more readily available as government works to bridge the digital divide.
During the second day of the National Toshaos Conference, Project Manager of the ICT Access and eServices project for Hinterland, Poor and Remote Communities, Ronald Harsawack, said government is making significant strides in establishing Information Communication Technology (ICT) hubs in the 200 communities earmarked for internet access.
He said to date, 90 grants were issued to communities for the construction of their ICT hubs. A total of 17 grants were disbursed in Region One, 10 in Region Two, four in Region Three, five in Region Four, one in Region Five, two in Region Six, 10 in Region Seven, four in Region Eight, 27 in Region Nine, and 10 in Region 10.
Twenty-five of those hubs, he said, are fully operational, while over 60 will be completed soon.
“Currently there are 65 sites that are ongoing, meaning that construction is in progress and aggregately, we are looking at 75 per cent completion rate by these hubs,” Harsawack said.
He added that a commitment was given that, “at the end of July, we would have a completion of those 65 buildings, and then we move to the other stage of installation.”
Persons will also be trained as Information Technology Technicians for which they will receive a certification at the end. This is an important part of the programme to build the capacity of the residents.
“We are going to have a series of training that is going to start in August of which all the village councils are going to take part, whether or not your facility is ready, we would involve you in that training.
We are going to have an extensive training session whereby young people and not so young people will be trainee in the communities, and will be first responders should something go wrong with the hubs. If there is a technical issue, they will be responding,” he said.
Some 200 persons will also be trained to manage the ICT hubs daily. This is in addition to the ‘train the trainer’ programme that will also see hundreds trained in ICT.
“We will embark on a trainer of trainer exercise which will see more than 400 people being trained. So, we will train about three persons per village in ICT literacy, computer uses, emails, internet etc. and they are expected now to go back to their communities, utilise the buildings to have training done on a continuous basis.”
Recognising that simply installing ICT hubs is not enough, government is working to find reliable ways to maximise the bandwidth the communities receive. It was pin-pointed that due to the remote locations of the communities, the internet access is not the most reliable, and it gets even worse as more people go online.
The PPP/C in its manifesto said that ICTs must be used in Guyana as an engine for economic and social empowerment. A commitment was also made to develop the infrastructure and provide an enabling environment to promote the use of ICTs across Guyana.