Government working aggressively to bridge the digital divide – Prime Minister

– Liberalisation, e-Government and ICT among priorities 

Prime Minister, Brigadier Mark Phillips, today said that the Government of Guyana is working aggressively to bridge the digital divide by ensuring that there is “an adequate infrastructure that promotes digital skills development for everyone”.

He made these remarks during a keynote address to a virtual conference, on the theme “The Commonwealth: Advancing towards the future with Emerging Technologies and Artificial Intelligence”. The Conference is organised jointly by AI Policy Labs, Global Policy Insights and the Ramphal Institute.

According to the Prime Minister, “the digital divide is caused most times by societal divisions between children who have access to digital technologies and those who do not”.

He said that the government is currently undertaking a dynamic range of measures to bridge this digital gap. Among those measures, is providing ICT hubs in the Hinterland and vulnerable communities countrywide and e-governance.

“Our e-Government programme is currently working to ensure an interconnected government to allow for a seamless operation where our people can access public services in a more expedient, efficient and convenient manner, and soon we will be revamping our One Laptop per Family initiative to ensure that every household is equipped with a computer in an aim to solve the issue of digital illiteracy and lack of access,” the Prime Minister said.

He added that although many young persons are utilising technology productively in their daily lives, much of their attention to it remains casual. He said that young people must use and exploit emerging technologies at its highest potential.

“Most importantly, a technological world in which our young people are fully equipped with the knowledge and skills to survive, is a world where their learning abilities will be unmatched, and their entrepreneurial drive could very well shape the future of our economies,” the Prime Minister said.

On September 7, 2020, His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced a list of more than 40 budgetary measures and on the list of areas revealed by the Head of State was the government’s plan to bridge the digital divide in Guyana. He announced that Value Added Tax on cellular phones will now be zero-rated and committed to the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector.

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