Telecoms Ministry to up its game in 2017
GINA, GUYANA. Friday, November 18, 2016
The Ministry of Public Telecommunications will be upping its game in relation to the services it offers to citizens. Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes said her Ministry will work with all stakeholders to ensure 2017 is a transformational year.
Minister Hughes was speaking about the sector’s plans as she delivered an address at the re-opening of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph’s (GTT), Brickdam branch. This is the telephone company’s third ‘Customer Experience Store’.
Minister Hughes pointed out that GTT has been an important partner in the development of Guyana for many years, and she looks forward to continue working with the company to help fulfill the telecommunications sector mandate.
The Minister added that by the end of 2017, the passport office will be completely digitised. Persons will only have to visit the office when it’s time to collect their travel document or if they need to take a photograph. The Government is looking to apply the same services for births and deaths.
Another key component that the Ministry will be looking at is expanding the broadband and internet access out of the coastal area into the hinterland, especially poor and rural communities.
The Telecommunications Minister said the Ministry is proposing to hold five Hackatons for 2017. This follows the success of the inaugural one held recently at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC).
Minister Hughes noted that five apps came out of the Hackaton. A security application was created whereby citizens can report on crime while another links markets and farmers.
Minister Hughes also made a call for Guyanese to, “start thinking differently”. The Telecommunications Minister noted that oftentimes “we have the mentality that things cannot be done because it’s Guyana, but once our thinking is changed things will get done.”
She stated, “We have to (start) embracing the use of plastic, we have to stop walking with millions of dollars, it does not make sense, what we don’t realise that there is a financial cost to operate a financial system that is heavily dependent on cash,” Minister Hughes explained.
The Public Telecommunications Minister noted that her Ministry did not receive all the finances that they required, but pointed out that the Ministry had received enough to do quite a number of things.
Minister said that the Ministry is exploring other opportunities. The Minister said “ some of the projects will need to be designed so that they can possibly go the GRIF (Guyana Redd + Investment Fund) instead of the Consolidated Fund.”
The Minister noted that the highlight for her and the Ministry of Public Telecommunications was the passage of the Telecommunications Bill. “This sets the stage for the things that we were talking about doing.”
Hughes noted that with the passage of the bill, small businesses which would have interest in the rural communities in terms of providing,
internet access or cable access can now do so.
Minister Hughes, who had functioned previously as Tourism Minister from May 2015 to early 2016, said that the Tourism Ministry played an important role in the Guyana Jubilee Celebrations.
The Minister highlighted that the Ministry only had a few months to prepare, but against all odds the team and the Ministry did exceptionally well. “We had close to 27,000 Guyanese in the diaspora that came home alone in the month of May… The restaurants were full, the taxi services were full.”
Minister Hughes congratulated the telephone company for the re-opening of the store and for their expression of confidence in the local economy.
Meanwhile, GTT’s Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nedd, during remarks at the store’s re-opening noted that the company is going through transformation and that customers will now enjoy a brighter location.
Head of Marketing, Allison Dundas, said, “You can come here and you can do everything and you leave and you do it in an atmosphere that is friendly.”
The lot 55, Brickdam branch replaced what was once the Blackberry store.
By Gabreila Patram