Wednesday, 18 May 2011 02:30
By press release
Antigua St John's - Today, Antigua and Barbuda is joining the World in observing Telecommunication and Information Society day. The World is becoming a smaller village everyday. More and more, technology is impacting positively on our daily lives.
Over the last seven years, my Government has been steadfast in building a people-centered Information Society.
The Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology has been successfully leading my Government’s charge to bring about a genuine revolution in our twin island nation through the use of ICTs.
ICTs have an extremely important role to play in the process of national development. Progressive countries like Antigua and Barbuda are exploiting the virtues of ICTs to add to the quality of life of our citizens and generally spur economic, social and cultural development so that persons in all strata of society can benefit in a positive manner.
ICTs are also creating and sustaining new opportunities for economic development both in the public and private sectors. My Government has created scores of new and sustainable ICT jobs in Government. ICT jobs have also been created in the private sector.
An accelerated rate of knowledge transfer coupled with technological diffusion have helped Antigua and Barbuda amplify its competitive advantage as a fast learning economy.
My Government has been a model utilizer of new technologies. We have significantly modernized our ICT infrastructure. We have deployed new technologies across several areas of Government’s operations. These deployments, which have vastly improved Government’s services, include:
* Hundreds of computers across all Government departments
* A faster fibre optic connection linking several ministries
* A modern data centre utilizing blade technology
* A state of the art Public Safety Communications Network that is used by the Police, Fire Department, the Defense Force, the Coast Guard, ONDCP and the Emergency Medical Services
* Greater access to fibre optic technology and broadband Internet.
In addition, several Ministries are well advanced in their implementation of the computerized Integrated Financial Management System project by rolling out the FreeBalance Financial Accountability application.
The Government website, www.antigua.gov.ag <http://www.antigua.gov.ag/> , now serves as the most authoritative and detailed portal for accessing Government information in real time. And, yes, we are reaching out to the Antiguan and Barbudan diaspora via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!
New mobile technologies are making it easier and quicker for services to be delivered. Several commercial banks now provide a multi-faceted mobile banking platform to their customers. That, ladies and gentlemen, is indicative of how the private sector is helping Government to re-shape the way our Society communicates and transacts business.
It is, therefore, no surprise that my administration has already been examining how our Nation can further leverage on new technologies. In this regard, proposals for utilizing closed circuit TV (CCTV) technology to boost our Nation’s crime fighting capacity are being evaluated by the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of National Security. In addition, proposals for the issuance of a national identification card are expected to come to the Cabinet shortly for its consideration. Both of these projects will further modernize our Nation by utilizing new wireless and digital technologies.
Fellow citizens, the theme for this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, “Better Life in Rural Communities with ICTs”, highlights the need for all of us to harness the full potential of ICTs for the benefit of our population.
My Government has a hugely successful record in deploying technologies in rural areas, thanks to the CONNECT ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA INITIATIVE. Under this initiative, we have already opened five new Community Computer Access Centers in the last four months. Each of the secondary schools and surrounding communities in Glanville’s, All Saints, Jennings and St. Mary’s are now fully wired into today’s digital revolution.
Later today, in further observance of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, I will open a new Community Computer Access Centre at the Clare Hall Secondary School.
Within a few weeks, Computer Access Centres will be opened at six additional schools: Pares, Bendals, Pigotts, Antigua Girls’ High, Seventh Day Adventist and Ottos Comprehensive.
By year end, the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology would have commissioned some 32 Community Computer Access Centres, all of which have been equipped with high-speed computers and broadband Internet. This is truly a revolution !
As I have stated before in other fora, the strategy that my Government has employed is to bring technology to the doorstep of the ordinary man and woman of Antigua and Barbuda. We are firmly of the view that throughout the communities in Antigua, the ordinary man, woman and child must not be left behind. In fact, they must be at the forefront of this technological revolution.
Today, the ICT revolution makes another strong leap forward and helps to keep Antigua and Barbuda as the ICT Capital of the Caribbean. Today, we take another step forward in positioning our Nation to take full advantage of the explosion in wireless and computerized technologies.
Today, I reiterate my Government’s commitment to the empowerment of those that we have charged with shaping and molding our young minds.
Fellow citizens, I am pleased to announce that in partnership with LIME, one of the leading telecommunication companies, the Government of Antigua, through the Ministry of Information, will provide every teacher in the State with a modern, high-speed laptop computer.
This new component of the Connect Antigua and Barbuda Initiative, “Technology for Education 20/20”, which will be administered by the Ministry of Information, will directly empower over 1600 primary and secondary school teachers, both in public and private schools.
In addition, each teacher will receive at their homes, four months of high-speed Internet from LIME. The costs of this broadband connectivity as well as the cost of the indoor customer premises equipment to access the Internet, are being absorbed by the Government.
Under “Technology for Education 20/20”, LIME will provide teachers with high-speed Internet of up to 1 meg at a monthly cost of EC $59.00 plus ABST for the next three years. This is a markedly reduced rate!
Further, all secondary schools, both private and public, will be become Wi-Fi enabled so that all of these schools will become virtual hot spots, enabling teachers and students to access the World Wide Web. The costs associated with this Internet connectivity will be met by the Government.
I commend LIME and the Antigua Country Manager, Davidson Charles, for forging this partnership with the Government.
I also commend and congratulate the Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Edmond Mansoor and the technicians at the Ministry of Information on this new project.
Under “Technology for Education 20/20”, every primary and secondary school teacher is being connected into today’s digital revolution.
We will not be left behind. Our teachers will not be left behind. Our students will not be left behind. The ICT revolution has dramatically and positively impacted on the education landscape in Antigua and Barbuda.
We are transforming lives as we connect city and village schools and teachers to information and knowledge on the Internet. We are narrowing the gap that separates those with and without access to information and knowledge, thereby broadening opportunities for a better life.
I wish this programme much success.
Thank you and may God bless us all.