Minister McCoy’s Opening Ceremony Statement of the World Summit on the Information Society 2022

Inclusiveness, Access to Information and Knowledge for all-Towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Colleagues and friends across the information society, it is a welcome relief to be able to join you in person for a most timely examination of the progress we’ve made in the intervening period since this body last met. Those being accommodated virtually are a lasting reminder, that we are not yet fully out of the woods and there are miles yet to go before we sleep.

The global challenges occasioned by the COVID 19 Pandemic, allowed for increased innovation and commitment at national levels and indeed across regional and international platforms, for advancing programmes for collaboration and commonality, that will no doubt redound to a stronger and more robust information society for the future.

I am pleased to have been offered the opportunity to highlight the progress we’ve made in Guyana to advance real access to information, expand our programmes designed and geared towards the building of a knowledge-based society and most assuredly, to build on our democratic framework for inclusive governance across all sectors of our country.

Over the past two years, as the pandemic threatened to erode our hard-earned gains in our economic and social development, we in Guyana saw an opportunity to consolidate and expand our programmes geared towards bridging the digital divide. Through an all-hands-on-deck approach with national stakeholders, we   channeled expertise and resources towards getting our schools and other institutions of learning fully online, with the necessary capacity to deliver the new learning experience consistently and with ease. This also included a reconfiguration of the structures of the Guyana Learning Channel and expansion of its reach, to leave no one behind.

Our government and public services still needed to reach the citizens and we responded accordingly, by not only ensuring that more services were put online, but by also building-in facilities and mechanisms to give our citizens the ability to access those services at the community and household levels across the country.

In fact, our interventions to strengthen the national backbone digital infrastructure are now serving as springboards for more targeted national programmes for us to fast-track the building of a knowledge-based society. Last year we launched an online scholarship platform affording citizens the opportunity to gain academic and technical qualifications from certificate to PhD levels, and to upskill with world-class industry training.

And, we have gone even further with a parallel national online remedial learning programme to fill the gaps for Guyanese who missed the opportunity to complete a secondary education. This could now be done from the comfort of their homes or at any of their more than 200 community ICT Hubs.  

I hasten to indicate however, that our progress remains fragile in Guyana, as our experience between 2015 and 2020, while we served in opposition, brought into sharp focus the need for a strengthening of our resolve in ‘purpose’ as a nation, along with the pillars and bastions of our democratic institutions and charters that will allow Guyana to remain steadfast on her journey to fulfilling national development ambitions and the Sustainable Development Goals, while concomitantly remaining solidly grounded in our democracy, among the Democratic League of Nations.

We believe there is much room for the WSIS networking platform to do exponentially more in helping small developing nations like Guyana and our sister CARICOM member states, to adequately expand and bolster our digital infrastructure to both mitigate external shocks… as presented by the pandemic, and to strengthen the digital ring-fencing of our democratic spheres that will allow us to remain steadfast on our course to sustainable development.

We continue to need assistance with world-class technical expertise and fair-use technologies, even more so now than ever before, in the context of Covid 19.

With that being said … Excellencies, colleagues all, I bring you warm salutations and best wishes for good health and success from our President, His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali and the rest of my Cabinet colleagues and indeed from the vigilant, hard-working army of public and private sector professionals and experts working across Guyana to strengthen, expand and consolidate our national infrastructures in ICTs for Development. I sincerely look forward to our time together and the outcomes that can potentially add value to what we are all attempting to achieve in our respective homelands and across our global networks.