President launches $105M IT centre at UG
February 2, 2004
President Bharrat Jagdeo speaking at the opening of the University of Guyana Centre for Information Technology on Friday evening. Sitting at the head table from left to right are, UG Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Al Creighton, Vice- Chancellor, Dr James Rose, G
President Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday launched the University of Guyana's (UG) state-of-the-art Centre for Information Technology.
The President acknowledged that from time to time there are differences between government and UG with regard to aspects of the university's operations. He highlighted some issues like the need for more external examiners, a fair appeals process and the tenure of lecturers as being among the glitches the UG administration needs to examine.
But this in no way influences the administration's actions as it continues to show commitment to the well-being of the facility as was demonstrated by the grant to realise the IT centre, the president said. "I think the commitment made should go a little way in quelling some of the critics..."
According to the head of state the computers commitment is just the beginning, as a $600 million loan, courtesy of the Caribbean Development Bank will shortly see more developments to UG's IT centre as well as upgrading of the science laboratories described as being in a sorry state.
The media and observers who don't know of the interaction between the government and UG should not view it as a lack of commitment, Jagdeo said. He complimented the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company and North American company Nortel for collaborating to equip the facility's internet lab.
"We want to see the right things done," Jagdeo said indicating that the government's sole objective is to get the best telephone service at the best price.
He acknowledged the development in the sector, but said fair competition as well as the correct legal and regulatory framework were critical to narrowing gaps in the local telecommunications sector. "It is not just about expanding over the years... for which they [ATN] have been rewarded handsomely, nor is it just about access," Jagdeo said, but cost and bandwidth are just as important.
To this end, he said, government is redrafting its IT policy as well as working to develop aspects of e-commerce via grant funding. He also alluded to the $60 million refurbishment of a building at Linden in which a call centre out of Barbados will be housed.
According to Jagdeo it is hoped that a stalled initiative to allow the development of about 20 large tele centres and 100 internet cafes could be realised to allowing growth in the IT sector.
GT&T's General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Sonita Jagan, spoke about the company's association with the education ministry in computerising some lower-end primary schools.
According to Jagan, GT&T's decision to be associated with the UG project was because of the company commitment to providing for the future of the education of the nation's children. GT&T will continue to support the IT centre to which, in collaboration with Nortel, it contributed some $10 million in computer equipment along with internet access.
Jagan assured that GT&T will continue to foot the $1.2 million bill for ensuring continued internet access at the centre and was looking forward to working with authorities to bring the GY domain under the control of the university.
Nortel Networks Repre-sentative in Jamaica Barry Nugent expressed his company's joy at being asked to be associated with the project, which it is committed to continuing.
US Ambassador, Roland Bullen saw the centre's launching as an investment in the future as the country continues to build its institutional capacity. Bullen was proud particularly as it was had via American investment through GT&T and Nortel who he said has set an example for others to emulate.
UG Vice-Chancellor Dr James Rose, said the centre was the result of a promise by President Jagdeo in February 2001 when he pledged $200 million to develop an up-to-date IT facility for the campus. According to Rose diligence and hard work has seen this promise become a reality at a cost of $105 million.
The centre has two teaching labs expected to host 48 workstations each, and a 57-station internet lounge, which has been sponsored by GT&T and Nortel.
The teaching labs are currently only equipped with 20 of the 96 computers, which were acquired though a donation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). In addition the centre is equipped with a stand-by generator, which will change over immediately in the event of a power outage.
The centre, which was designed by VIKAB engineering, was constructed by Kishan Bacchus. Work began on May 2, 2002 and was completed on April 15, 2003. The centre was formally handed over to the UG administration a week ago.