OLPF not just about a computer - offers hope, possibilities - President Jagdeo

OLPF not just about a computer - offers hope, possibilities - President Jagdeo
-1000 benefit as distribution kicks off

Georgetown, GINA, November 8, 2011
Source - GINA

This beaming senior citizen poses with her laptop with President Bharrat Jagdeo, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, PPPC Presidential Candidate Donald Ramotar and OLPF’s Senior Project Officer Sesh Sukhdeo

Today marked a historic day in Guyana as 1,000 Guyanese families received their Haier Netbooks as the distribution phase of Government’s One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) Programme officially commenced. Distribution of 4,000 more instruments will commence as early as tomorrow at hubs in the various regions.

Delivering his remarks at the distribution ceremony at the National Cultural Centre, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that this initiative is not merely about a computer; but rather it is a project to bring Guyana and its citizens together as the instruments, “offer great hope for transformation in your personal lives and in our country.”

President Bharrat Jagdeo presenting a laptop to a recipient

By the end of this year, 57,000 of the devices are expected to arrive in Guyana and funding has already been secured through a grant from the Chinese Government to finance the remaining 33,000 to make up the grand total of 90,000 as targeted by the programme.

President Jagdeo relayed the assurance of the PPP/C Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar, that if elected, he stands committed to ensuring the continuation of this programme so that every single Guyanese family will benefit.

“The goal is not just to get laptop in every home but to ensure that within three years, every single Guyanese is computer literate…we want to be the most computer literate country in the world,” he said.

He explained that apart from the rapid growth in income, there has also been a significant change in the way people relate to each other particularly in terms of business transactions. He noted that 20 years ago, the biggest companies in the world produced things that could be touched such as telephones, vehicles and other such appliances.

Today, however, the most successful companies that are worth billions in the stock exchanges are those that exist in virtual reality (cyberspace).

Proud laptop recipients.

This means that the creation of ideas and the ability to express and sell those ideas via the internet will be very important in the future development of any country and Guyana is no exception.

“Technology has opened up great possibilities…the developed world is already wealthy and if they have the most advanced tools in the world at their disposal that will generate the wealth of the future, then the gap between the developing countries and the developed world will continue to grow,” the Head of State highlighted.

The gap that exists among countries of the world, also exist within countries as there are many rich families that can afford this modern tool; resulting in their children having access to better families than those coming from disadvantaged homes.

The President said that there is new and emerging economies comprising sectors of the future that will add to the productivity of the traditional ones while at the same time drive the new sectors such as oil and gas, environmental sustainability, agro-processing, plantation-type agriculture, eco-tourism and Information Communication Technology (ICT), to wealth creation in Guyana.

“This sector that we are trying to create is one that has great potential to transform our economy and transform the way we live…after you leave here with that computer, many of you are going to be closer to being part of that future; that new economy…this is why I see this activity as the beginning of a partnership between Government and the citizens of this country,” President Jagdeo said.

The recipients were asked to ensure that all the members of their family are trained in the use of the computer. They were also asked to give 30 hours of their time to assist in training others, so that no one is left behind. He pointed out that this arrangement will boost volunteerism, which to some extent, is lost in the Guyanese society.

The Haier Netbooks

This project is also aimed at modernising Government services; whereby a number of public facilities such as hospitals, schools, and police stations among others will be connected through the fibre optic cable that is coming from Brazil, providing bandwidth. This project is expected to be completed by early next year.

A WIMAX system will be developed in the city and other populated areas; while another type of technology called EVDO which will enable over 80,000 people to have access to internet connectivity.

Meanwhile, another Chinese company has been contracted to lay a fibre optic cable from Crabwood Creek, Region Six to Charity, Region Two to add to the cable coming from Lethem to Linden and subsequently to the coast.

“This means that we will have fibre optic backbone across the entire country that will allow us to move capacity and to get internet services into these areas…in the United States of America there are 50 million people who are not computer literate and about 20 percent of families do not have a computer, we go ahead of all of those countries and it is possible,” the President posited.

Government is also working on a partnership with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) company to ensure that people have affordable internet connectivity. Further, health, education, e-government, and security applications will be installed on the fibre optic backbone.

The President said once all of these plans take off the possibilities are endless for Guyanese citizens, as they will be able to access important Government services from the comfort of their homes.

He highlighted that one of the promises outlined in the PPP/C 2011 manifesto has to do with ensuring that the University of Guyana (UG) has an online degree programme so that persons, particularly single parent women who work during the day, can have access to university education without leaving their homes and at their own convenience.

The President rejected outright, allegations purported by the Opposition that Government is planting “bugs” on the computers to invade people’s privacy.

He also refuted statements printed in the Kaieteur News that the computers were bought from some friend of the PPP/C and stored at someone’s “bottom-house” as it is a corrupt deal.

He reaffirmed that the purchase was done through a public process by Haier, a large multi-billion dollar company, which tendered directly; hence, Government will able to strike a good deal for the devices.

As a result of Haier winning the contract to supply the computers, the company is now establishing a manufacturing plant in Guyana that will assemble computers as well as a range of other items for the Caribbean market.

The President called on parents to exercise control over the sites that their children visit when they go online and urged them to be on guard for sexual predators and other negativities that can be found on the web. He also appealed to the recipients not to sell the computers as they will be giving up a chance of a bright future.

Since the launch of the programme, the OLPF Secretariat has received over 44,000 applications of which over 21,000 have been verified. Moreover, 200 ICT hubs or places of learning have been established and 35 have been activated to cater to the needs of this first batch of recipients.

Last month, the first shipment of 5000 Haier Netbooks, valued more than US$1.4M arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
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