US$37M loan for tech projects processing – Min. Hughes

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By Devina Samaroo

The status of the multimillion-dollar loan, which the Government applied for at the China Exim Bank to conduct major tech projects locally, will be known soon.

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

Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes told reporters on Monday, January 22, 2018, during a press conference that the loan is still being processed but she hopes to get an update on its approval in three months.

“We’ve not gotten confirmation yet. We are extremely optimistic.  We were told that by April we will get a sense of where the loan was,” Minister Hughes said.

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 had explained to the News Room 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 said.

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 ensure 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,” the Telecommunications Minister 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.

Once the loan is approved, Huawei will commence the execution of the various aspects of the initiative.

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