More hinterland communities to receive ICT hubs

DPI, GUYANA, Monday, April 9, 2018

The National Data Management Authority (NDMA), which falls under the purview of the Public Telecommunications Ministry, will, in the next few weeks, be rolling out aspects of the Hinterland component of the Community Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Hub Project.

The “exciting” news was announced by Director of Community Development and Social Management at the NDMA, Phillip Walcott, who was speaking on the sidelines of the recently opened Leguan ICT hub.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes assisting a resident to use the laptop available at the recently opened Leguan ICT hub.

The NDMA, Walcott informed, is presently working on launching hubs in Barima-Waini (Region One), Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven), Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight) and Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo (Region Nine).

“That is critical because that represents the Hinterland component and remember, part of that manages to link the Hinterland and the Coast and even though we have put down a 110 [ICT hubs] only 18 of those are in the Hinterland.”

The hinterland component of the Community ICT Hub Project represents a total of 212 hubs, hence Walcott noted, “we really have a lot of work to do”.

The total for the Coastland is set at 214 hubs, giving the overall total of 426 hubs across the ten administrative regions over a period of five years. The project is now in its second year.

“Even though we have done well at 110, we still have a long way to go”. Walcott noted that each year the target is increased as the department works to overcome the challenges in a number of the communities.

Of the 110 hubs established to date, 67 of those are “fully operational,” which, according to the NDMA, means they are furnished with workstations, laptops and have free internet access. The remaining 43 are labelled “operational”, having only free internet access, which is available to the public.

Providing these hubs with free WIFI represents the first step in them becoming “fully operational”.

For this quarter, the NDMA Director said 82 percent of the target has been achieved, with added attention to be placed on the Essequibo Coast, where 32 percent of this year’s target has so far been attained.

Director of Community Development and Social Management at the NDMA, Phillip Walcott.

“We know the areas we need to focus on and we are going to concentrate our resources in those areas to make sure that at the next quarterly report we’re on target.”

Many of the communities, Walcott noted, are enthusiastic about having the hubs established, however, he said the greatest challenge for the NDMA in some of the Hinterland, poor and remote communities, is the lack of the necessary infrastructure.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, speaking recently about this challenge, said the input of stakeholders including citizens with the requisite resources can help the NDMA to overcome this particular hurdle.

Meantime, Walcott said, “One of the exciting things, is that we have two communities in Linden, which actually built small buildings from scratch, community effort, strictly funds raised from the community just to build ICT hubs.”

He alluded to the collaboration between the communities and the authority in this initiative and commended the residents for their support in helping the Government, through the NDMA in bringing internet connectivity to Guyanese.

The Community ICT Hub Project was conceptualised as an effort of the Government of Guyana eGovernment programme to provide ICT services to citizens.

The Ministry of Public Telecommunications has oversight of the project, which also focuses on advancing human development and empowerment, and community development, through community-based organisations.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael

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