China visit afforded Guyana many opportunities- Minister Hughes

GINA, GUYANA, Friday, September 16, 2016

Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes believes that this is a time for Guyana to think big, as she elaborated on her recent trip to the People’s Republic of China.

During a press briefing held at the Minister’s Colgrain House, Camp Street office, Minister Hughes described the visit as an exceptionally successful “fact finding mission.”    The Minister headed the team that recently returned from China.

“It revealed the most advanced, state-of-the-art technologies in the field of ICT.  The official delegation included Floyd Levi, Head of the E-Government Unit, and Clement Henry, Manager of the Citizen Security Strengthening Project. We accepted an invitation from Chinese technology giant, Huawei Technologies, the company that built Guyana’s coastal fibre optic network,” Minister Hughes said.

Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes addressing media operatives. To her far right is Clement Henry, Project Manager of the Citizens Security Strengthening Programme, to her immediate right, Floyd Levi, Project Manager – E- Governance Project and to her left Marjorie Chester, Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications

Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes addressing media operatives. To her far right is Clement Henry, Project Manager of the Citizens Security Strengthening Programme, to her immediate right, Floyd Levi, Project Manager – E- Governance Project and to her left Marjorie Chester, Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications

The Minister advised that the visit afforded the team several opportunities which included meeting with the key officials of Huawei, a reputable global company, to discuss all aspects of the ongoing maintenance and expansion of Guyana’s US$32M E-Government network, and to explore opportunities for training – creating new skills and upgrading existing technological talent.

The team had fruitful meetings with Huawei’s principals on possible areas of cooperation at their Shenzhen headquarters and toured the factories, universities and installations in Shanghai and Beijing.

In addition, the team participated in “Huawei Connect 2016”, a three-day global integrated technology conference in Shanghai, which attracted about 20,000 ICT leaders and experts from over 120 countries. The conference provided a platform for the leaders in the ICT industry around the world to view the latest technological developments in action, and to attend information workshops on cutting-edge solutions such as Cloud Computing and bit-data management.

“China’s development has been amazing.  Our visit allowed our Ministry, especially the E-Government unit, to explore new directions, and create new strategies that can propel the development of a green, smart, information-driven Guyana. It is clear to me today, that we cannot solve Guyana’s problems in the traditional way.  What’s exciting is that with the use of existing technologies, we have the capacity and many opportunities to truly connect, transform and innovate,” Hughes said.

Minister Hughes told media operatives that, “here we are talking about establishing an interconnected digital platform that will provide government services to citizens in an efficient, cost effective and time saving manner.”

The Public Telecommunications Minister is of the view that, it is about establishing 21st   century systems that can manage all government and private sector data in a safe and secure manner. “No more collecting and disposal of mountains of paper after a flood, no more loss of important information that was only available on paper.”

Most importantly, it is about increasing bandwidth and improving levels of internet accessibility, and is also about better telephone and other communication services among all citizens, the Minister stated.

“So interconnectivity is the foundation upon which we will build this integrated cross-sectoral platform. What does that platform look like? It offers citizens the benefits of tele-medicine, that is having a doctor at a hospital in Georgetown connect with a patient in Mabaruma or Nappi Village, seeing and communicating with the patient and healthcare worker in real time and recommending treatment options.”

Meanwhile, Head of the Government’s E Governance Project, Floyd Levi said that since the project was rolled out in 2010 with the US$32M provided through a loan from China’s Exim Bank, several shortcomings have been identified. The visit to the company in China provided the opportunity to request assistance in resolving and addressing these deficiencies.

Clement Henry, Project Manager of the Citizens Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) under the Ministry of Public Security, explained that the trip provided insight for the effective execution of the Smart City, Safe City Programme and the establishment of Information and Integrated System. The latter is a work in progress.

The Project Execution Unit of the CSSP will work closely with the Ministry of Public Telecommunications in developing a working group in this regard as it has been recognised that services provided by the telecoms sector will aid in the execution of the project.

Minister Hughes urged all stakeholders to change the focus, to “identify our own priorities as a nation. This is the time for Guyana to think big, but act in a manner reflecting our small country. It’s about implementing strategies to bridge the digital/technological and economic gaps we have today.  And it is about creating smart cities, safe cities and a smart nation – a smart Guyana,” the Minister stated.

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