Georgetown, Guyana – (July 9, 2018) President David Granger said that Information Communications Technology (ICT) is a functional and practical response to the challenge of the digital deficit in Caribbean states; noting that it will promote greater inclusion and innovation and provide information services and digital industries consistent with the country’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS). “ICT must drive the establishment of paperless agencies, departments and ministries. It must promote greater use of non-cash financial instruments. E-government must make public services more accessible; e-business must facilitate commerce, investment and trade,” the Head of State said. He made these remarks at the opening of the Caribbean ICT Roadshow and E-Agriculture Forum at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC).
The President said that this event can generate awareness of the many opportunities which ICT can provide for the region and stimulate interest in ICT development as each Caribbean jurisdiction moves towards becoming digital states. He also spoke of the five pillars, on which the National ICT Policy is built- infrastructure, integration, the provision of information services, innovation and policy.
“ICT, effectively deployed, can promote improved productivity and competitiveness. It is a manifestation of technological progress, fostering innovation and, consequently, economic growth. It is part of the globalisation process which brings peoples and markets closer together. ICT is affecting our economic, social and private lives profoundly. It is increasing the volume, and the speed of market transactions…ICT has been recognised as an important instrument of national development. The Government of Guyana created the Ministry of Public Telecommunications with the mandate to develop the enabling environment that will facilitate the optimum utilisation of ICT for national development,” President Granger said.
Guyana, like other Caribbean States, is moving towards becoming a digital state, which the President said will reduce the need for citizens to travel outside of their regions to examine their academic and medical records, to acquire passports, access legal services, record births and deaths, to receive social security benefits, register businesses, renew drivers’ licences, submit income-tax returns and to embark on trade and investment enterprises.
“The digital state will revolutionise the delivery of education, including distance education, by introducing technology-based teaching into the public education system thereby improving educational attainment…The digital state will trigger economic transformation. It will spawn knowledge-based industries while diversifying the economy away from primary production, moving manufacturing up the value chain and building greater economic resilience. It is about applying ICT to add value to primary production and to ensure greater access to external and internal markets,” President Granger said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Minister of Public Telecommunications, Ms. Catherine Hughes, who said that globally, ICT-lead growth is creating jobs, raising productivity, increasing incomes, and brokering many opportunities for increased trade and human development. She noted too, that extensive application of information technology now provides the opportunities for new ways to create wealth, thus creating and contributing significantly to poverty elimination.
“In the Caribbean region, the past two decades have been a period during which we’ve seen the introduction and spread in the use of mobile phones, personal computers, tablets, the internet, dramatic expansion in the number and range of telecommunications and broadcast media providers and the growth of applications of ICT in businesses, schools, and even in homes. All of this allows for increased entrepreneurial activities amongst our citizens,” Minister Hughes explained.
She also spoke of a policy framework, which the Ministry of Public Telecommunications is developing to allow for the full utilisation of ICT for national development. This framework, at the microeconomic level, seeks to facilitate sustained economic growth and poverty reduction, promote social justice transparency and equality, mainstream gender in national development, empower the youth in disadvantaged groups, stimulate investment and innovation in ICT and create universal access.
The Minister also called on stakeholders, particularly the private sector to fully embrace ICT in their day to day operations.
This one-week event is being held by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications in collaboration with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Digicel, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other stakeholders and will include ICT outreaches in East- Berbice Corentyne and Annai, Region Nine.
The ICT Roadshow has been developed to raise awareness within the public sector, the private sector, civil society and academia, of the innovative approaches possible and necessary for the effective use of ICTs in government, business and social development. The theme for this year is, “Harnessing the power of innovation: the engine for ICT-enabled development”.