Seeing the possibilities Editorial
Stabroek News
April 9, 2002

Related Links: Articles on stuff
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Listening to Mr. Bert Carter, an engineer, talk on satellite technology and the entertainment industry on the Camp street avenue was in many ways a moving experience. In the first place, it quickly became apparent to even the most uninitiated that Mr. Carter knew a great deal about his topic and had the capacity to put it over in a most interesting way. Having himself been involved in the building of dishes locally he was able to explain the intricacies of the topic in a manner anyone could follow. Secondly, Mr. Carter was uncompromisingly Guyanese, lacing his talk with humorous anecdotes and asides that had many in secret stitches. Thirdly, the substantial, completely mixed audience listened intently, following the various demonstrations (there was a dish there) closely. There was an atmosphere of brotherhood and sharing that made one dream of that Guyana Mr. Raphael Trotman had in mind when he wrote in a letter last Sunday of "the hundreds of thousands like myself who are sickened by a culture of hatred giving birth to reprisals and revenge." People were eager to listen and learn. There was no thought of anything else. It was a positive moment.

Finally, it made on think of the possibilities for development that keep being wasted or ignored. As Mr. Mike Welch from the Faculty of Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Guyana (Mr. Welch was there that night with some of his students from the Radio Research Centre, backing up Mr. Carter)put it in his booklet 'A critical review of television development in Guyana'; "The technology of TV had an impact on the Guyanese society beyond the imagination of anyone. The spin-offs were so great that it is unimaginable that Guyana did not have an industry in this area. There were about 70,000 television sets with over 20,000 VCRs. Video clubs emerged in the system with Mr. George Lee and Dyer being one of the earliest clubs. In support of this, there were at least four (4) major repair shops which Mr. Culpepper, Mr. Lee and Mr. W. Stevens were associated with.

There were areas of technology in manufacture which were relatively unknown in Guyana. The technicians were able to produce printed circuit boards of their own and in the case of the engineering, there were many innovations and designs into areas like circular waveguides, Gregorian Horns, spherical antennas and their deep throat horns, use of fibre glass to mould waveguides, Faraday shields and of course the highlight of all this was the local design of a low noise amplifier which worked.

Georgetown was not the only area which had this fever, but Mr. N. Stevens born in Essequibo took his antenna and LNA to the coast, and this motivated persons to invest in antennas to receive TV from the powerful transmitters in Georgetown. The person who spearheaded this operation was Mr. W. Benn who was a head teacher at the multilateral school. The point to note is that he was not a technician nor engineer. Such was the motivation and the thirst for knowledge. It was a technology that brought everyone, regardless of discipline, together. Books were lent to each other, information was exchanged and learning took place. Within the entire Caribbean there was a feeling that Guyanese per person knew more about video machines and TV reception (home) than any other one".

The possibilities were enormous. If there had been some entrepreneurs with access to venture capital we might even have started a television and satellite dish industry. The men and the enthusiasm were there. What was lacking was the ability to put it all together.

It is important to dream as that gives the strength and hope to keep going. Mr. Carter showed that night that everything is far from lost, only the vision is lacking to energise a population that is alienated and dispirited after 35 years of independence with precious little to show for it.