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39% of population connected to Internet – Hughes

first_img…says ICT strategy to be ready for consultations shortlyAcknowledging that it may sound like a low number, Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes disclosed on Friday that slightly less than 40 per cent of Guyana’s population has Internet connectivity.She made this admission in the National Assembly as she defended the frequent statements in the public domain regarding Guyana’s fledgling Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.“I know in the press, I’ve been carried talking about our drive to provide connectivity. We’ve connected all the Ministries at this point in time. Over 150 government agencies, over 195 schools and we’ve created and opened in communities over 125 ICT hubs where there’s free Internet access,” she said.“The Internet penetration rate in Guyana today stands at 305,007 persons. That means that 39.6 per cent of the current population of this country are using and connected to the Internet. It might sound low, but it’s over 300,000 persons.”Hughes stated that while persons may say there was an absence of a strategy, it actually has not been put out for consultation. But according to the Minister, that does not mean that things are not happening, as she believes there is enough indication and discussion about a strategy.“It’s my pleasure to say that the Ministry of Public Telecommunications is close to completing and bringing an ICT strategy out for consultations,” she related. “But in the meantime, I want to say that almost four or five times a month we demonstrate in a tangible way how that strategy is working.”Earlier this month, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) had hosted a road show in collaboration with the Ministry in various regions across Guyana. Some of the activities that were featured included an e-agriculture workshop, community outreaches, a cyber-security workshop, and an ICT youth fair.ICT strategyAt a recent press conference, Hughes had announced that the Government would be formulating a policy framework expected to bridge the gap which exists between the hinterland and coastal communities and steer Guyana into the 21st Century.“The Ministry of Public Telecommunications is developing the policy framework for the full utilisation of ICTs for our national development. This framework at a microeconomic level seeks to facilitate sustained economic growth and poverty reduction; promote social justice, transparency and equality; mainstream gender in national development; empower the youths and disadvantaged groups; stimulate investment and innovation and create universal access,” Minister Hughes had stated.She had noted that the benefits of the policy are goals which Guyana should work towards. However, the framework will only be effective if the current legislation is modernised, along with the development of the current ICT arrangement.“These, of course, are lofty goals which we’re determined to uphold and deliver. We recognise, however, that like every other policy initiative of this nature, there are going to be challenges. We have to continue to develop our ICT infrastructure. We also need to continue to modernise our current legislation and policy frameworks and we have to evolve our education methods and delivery for the 21st Century environment.”Meanwhile, it was announced that the training of personnel in the various fields of communication will also be done to highlight the intervention measures that are being taken by the Ministry to transform Guyana into a digital nation.“We are creating a digital Guyana. We know that we have to look critically at our human resource development and strategies and so our commitment to training will take us all there,” she had also said.The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) had noted in its end-of-year report that formal complaints against GTT totalled some 296 complaints for 2017, even more than the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).“The complaints received from GT&T followed the same trend as previous years with the majority of complaints received pertaining to technical issues. GTT has advised that the company is in the process of providing new technological installations to some of the areas which were previously served by the obsolete Fixed Wireless System (FWA),” the report had noted.“Data service via Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology is being offered to the Essequibo Coast. Areas such as La Grange on the West Bank of Demerara that was once served by the obsolete FWA system benefited from Fibre to the Home (FTTH),” the report had added.last_img

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