Cabinet has approved a request by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to enter into an agreement with the Huawei Technologies Company of China to conduct a feasibility study for a countrywide internet connection project.
Speaking at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said that the company will be performing “a comprehensive needs assessment in order to develop scope for the establishment of a nationwide broadband network or Smart Guyana project.”
The assessment, he explained, will examine the level of effort and financing required as well as the considerations for information system application at all levels of government.
In September, Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes had visited China with a delegation from the ministry’s E-Government Unit and met with officials of the ICT giant.
At a press conference held after the delegation’s return, Hughes had stated that the delegation began what can only be described as an exceptionally successful “fact finding mission” to China. She informed that government accepted an invitation from the company, which was responsible for building Guyana’s coastal fibre optic network, and was afforded the opportunity to meet with the key officials of the company to discuss all aspects of the ongoing maintenance and expansion of the E-Government network and to explore opportunities for training – creating new skills and upgrading existing technological talent.
It was also announced that Huawei Technologies had been asked to assist Guyana to expand its internet network.
Head of the E-Government Unit Floyd Levi, who was part of the delegation, had said that an assessment has to first be done to determine the cost of the project, the types of technologies that will have to be used and the areas that will benefit.
He had noted that in 2010 Guyana secured a US$32M loan from the China Exim Bank to build an E-Government network that was installed along the coastline of Guyana – from Corriverton to Charity, Essequibo Coast. That network, which goes as far south as Diamond, East Bank Demerara, is used around Georgetown to connect government ministries.
According to Levi, when the department begun operationalising the network last year, it was recognised that there were some “shortcomings in the layout of the network” and the unit’s ability to manage and operate the network. As a consequence, a request was made for consideration to be given to the expansion of the unit’s network reach, since it only encapsulates the coastline and does not offer services to those living south of Diamond.