National broadband network on the horizon

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– Guyana and China ink loan agreement for National Broadband Network

– “The National Broadband Project will make reality of what others bumbled” – Finance Minister Winston Jordan

– will be a catalyst for efficiency, productivity and profitability

DPI, Guyana, Friday, October 26, 2018

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan today signed a loan agreement with Chinese Ambassador Cui Jianchun to bring to fruition the National Broadband project.

According to the Finance Minister Winston Jordan, the $7.8 Billion (US $37.6 Million) concessional loan agreement with the Chinese Government, via the Exim Bank will finally, correct previous attempts made by the last administration to establish a similar network.

(from left to right) Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma, Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes receiving the loan agreement from Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, Chinese Ambassador, H.E. Cui Jianchun.

The Minister cited the 2016 World Development Report which stated, “Investment in broadband technology drives economic growth and development by contributing to job creation, sparking innovation, supporting digital entrepreneurs and stimulating improved public services.

The project “will be a catalyst for efficiency, productivity and profitability, from an economic standpoint for the development of small, medium and large businesses, thus allowing them to compete globally.” It will provide several benefits, Minister Jordan added,

It was explained that the project’s implementation will see the construction of additional Long-term Evolution (LTE) towers, equipping of another data centre and the training of workers in all sectors to provide improved services, transforming local ICT services.

The capacities and ICT connectivity of the health, education, security sectors and government agencies will be boosted Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes noted. She said this has been in the making for close to two years, “We are going to transform Guyana in the way we have always talked about, by the increased use of ICT.” Minister Hughes added that it will be initiated with the “Safe City Component of the National Broadband Strategy”. This will enable the Guyana Police Force to track license plates and other documents, improve response and access critical information in real time. Data protection in the ministries and other government agencies will also be strengthened.

The transparency of the unique agreement was noted by the Chinese Ambassador Cui Jianchun who described it as another highlight of the two countries’ relationship. He opined it was, “very important for Guyanese society because we believe that it important for the Green State Development Strategy.” He added that China is keen to help this country prepare for the future.

The loan is repayable over 20 years, with a five-year grace period and a 2% interest rate. The National Broadband Project is expected to be completed by the middle of 2020.

Paul Mc Adam

Images: Jules Gibson