US$17M MoU signed to provide internet to remote communities

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A US$17M Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Thursday, November 30, by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministries of Finance and Telecommunications to provide internet to remote communities.

The approved ‘Project Document for the ICT Access and e-Services for Hinterland, Poor and Remote Communities’ will be executed by the National Data Management Authority (NDMA). It is being funded by the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) and will be implemented over a five-year period beginning on December 1, 2017.

According to the UNDP in a statement, the project seeks to strengthen Guyana’s E-government policy environment with respect to Hinterland communities and ensure that citizens have increased access to information to build their capacity to use ICTs.

Telecommunications Minister, Catherine Hughes was quoted as saying: “For far too long the digital divide between these areas and the Coastland has been real. With this project, we are about to change those circumstances and start the transformation of our people in these areas.”

Echoing similar sentiments was UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mikiko Tanaka, who applauded the Government of Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway for their cooperation.

Tanaka explained that she looks forward to learning from the experience of delivering this project, relevant lessons applicable for delivering GRIF programmes in the hinterland areas, where conditions such as lack of access to ICTs pose broad challenges that this project is trying to address.

As a precursor to the project, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, working in close collaboration with UNDP, completed a comprehensive Baseline and Needs Assessment which had identified the communities to benefit. The study included field visits and direct interaction with target communities which have provided deep insights into the core issues these communities are facing as well as the likely technologies and business models that could bring and sustain the services and information that the residents currently lack, the statement said.

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