President David Granger on Thursday used the opening of the National Data Management Authority’s Information Technology Centre to plead his Government’s case for re-election, on the basis of plans for the ICT sector.
The President said his Government aims to develop Guyana into a digital state but it needs more time to do so.
“ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is a functional and practical response to the challenge of the digital deficit in Guyana.
“It will promote greater inclusion and innovation and provide information services and digital industries consistent with the Green State Development Strategy,” he said at a ceremony held at the Centre for Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT) located at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen campus.
However, he noted that “by any measure, this initiative must be allowed to continue over the next five years.”
The President’s comment came two days after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) upheld a No-Confidence vote against his Government, necessitating early elections.
He noted that only 36% of Guyanese citizens use the internet, a rate that is lower than most Caribbean countries. One of the major challenges, he said, is the significant gap between the hinterland and coastland regions.
But “we will close that gap even further during our next tour of office,” he said, expressing optimism for re-election to office.
He pointed to plans to equip classrooms with projectors, white boards and screens instead of blackboards and chalk; to ensure teachers can teach separate classrooms simultaneously; send medical tests results for interpretation across long distances; utilizing ICT to better map crime and match fingerprints electronically; marketing of agriculture produce online among others.
The President also highlighted the One Laptop Per Teacher initiative undertaken by his government and the opening of over 170 IT hubs across the country along with the provision of free internet access at some schools and Government agencies.
Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes said the centre is the foundation of the Government’s strategy to train more persons in the ICT field.
She envisioned that the facility will produce a new batch of Information Technology teachers, IT technicians, programmers, app developers, cyber security experts and other professionals in the public sector.
“This is a critical foundation on which we want to build a Guyana that is ready to take its place in today’s globalized digital world,” she said.
The Centre for Excellence in Information Technology was funded to the tune of US$1.5M with US$1M coming from the Government of India and US$500,000 from the Guyana Government.
The facility began training persons in April of this year and offers approximately 12 courses for public sector professionals.
According to the outgoing Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, V. Mahalingam, the Centre is the first to be built by India in the Caribbean. The country has built many other such centres around the world.
The partnership began in 2016 when the Memorandum of Understanding was signed for the project.
The Indian Government has provided computers and equipment to set up two laboratories which can accommodate 25 students each, one classroom for 50 students and also donated 1,000 reference books.