‘Blackouts’ a bother in Guyana as people need to access online learning, work – World Bank

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With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in disruptions to working and attending school physically, online services have become important. A recent report from the World Bank has, however, found that power outages in Guyana are a constraint for people.

The new report from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is named: “An Uneven Recovery: The impact of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean.”

For this report, adults from 24 Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries were interviewed. According to the report, high costs, power outages and poor quality of internet connectivity significantly affect households in the LAC region when trying to use the internet.

In Guyana and Honduras, however, the biggest challenge was power outages, which are commonly called blackouts. More than 70 per cent of households – or about seven out of every 10 households – reported having trouble using the internet because of power outages.

Guyana’s challenges with power outages have been long known and recently the country’s Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo assured members of the public that the government will intensify efforts to deal with this challenge.

A snippet from the World Bank report showing the challenges households in countries faced when accessing and using the internet

 

Meanwhile, across the LAC region, an average of about 37 per cent of households (or just less than every four out of 10 households) are significantly affected by power outages. This is almost half the impact faced in Guyana and Honduras.

Several countries, including Guyana, also reported that the cost of internet services, including data access packages, is a challenge. Columbia, Haiti and Peru are also significantly affected by these high costs.

And, across the LAC region, many households generally have poor quality or low speed of internet services.

“Low access to the internet and poor internet quality can undermine the ability to work from home or connect virtually to school, resulting in the direct effects on household wellbeing,” the report stated.

Despite these challenges, the report also stated that digital technologies can help increase access to goods and services, particularly in remote areas. This includes the increased use of digital transactions such as making payments online and using mobile banking.

And many of the countries actually saw an increase in the use of digital technologies for commercial purposes during the pandemic. Many users in Guyana have not adopted these digital technologies.

As such, it was reported that the second-lowest number of users to shift to these virtual business transactions was recorded in Guyana. The lowest number was recorded in Haiti. (Vishani Ragobeer)

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