US$37M contract signed with Chinese firm for major digital projects

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A US$37M contract has been signed with multinational Chinese firm, Huawei for major technological projects that can transform the country’s digital landscape.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes told News Room Saturday that the government has applied for a loan from the Exim Bank of China for the funding for the initiative which will see Huawei executing various projects in the areas of health, education, and security.

The project will see the expansion of the country’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, upgrading of the data centre, the creation of a backup data centre, the construction of a CCTV footage command centre, and the development of infrastructure for e-health and e-education services.

Minister Hughes explained that the fibre optic network, which was built by Huawei several years ago, needs to be expanded.

“Right now the network goes from Essequibo Coast all the way up to Corriverton, Berbice. So to expand it, we want to be able to take it (internet service) into other areas (like the hinterland),” she explained.

Already, the Ministry has connected 96 schools, several government buildings and created over 50 information and communications technology hubs (ICT) using the fibre optic network.

Minister Hughes further explained that the sole data centre – a facility for storing, processing and distributing large amounts of data – needs to be upgraded and a backup created.

“The funds will expand that data centre and it will also create a second data centre…and while you’ll do that, if for example, the national data centre has any problems, we need to have another data centre that is a backup,” she explained.

The data centre is presently located at Castellani House and Minister Hughes explained that the backup facility would preferably be constructed in a region with higher grounds.

According to the Minister, the funding would include the development of e-classroom and e-healthcare where persons in the hinterland communities can access these critical services without having to travel to the coastland.

The other aspect of the project would be to complement of the Ministry of Public Security’s Safe City Solutions. “Part of it would insure that you are using more ICT in the Police Force… we’re looking to put more cameras in and also to have a security command centre where you would have a big room with monitors and you’ll be able to see which streets and which cameras are in what area,” she said.

Part of the vision is to ensure police cars have internet access so the Force will be able to effectively coordinate and improve its crime fighting and prevention efforts, the Minister outlined.
Minister Hughes is hoping that the project will be approved and funds released in time to commence the initiative next year.

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