Keeping abreast with technological development
July 23, 2004
Guyana may be a poor country but it is surely right up there with the best of them when it comes to advanced technology, especially in the area of telecommunication. Of course, the technological development was a bit slow in coming, largely because the nation did not have people with the requisite knowledge. But once it did come, people readily gravitated to it.
Offices and Ministries began compiling payrolls by computers; private sector agencies began using the computer extensively to store data, and of course, in the field of telecommunication, just about every Guyanese latched on to the new technology.
Newspapers are all computerised. No newspaper office in Guyana would be found with the now obsolete system of cutting and pasting manually. No editorial department would be littered with bits of paper as the reporter writes and rewrites a story, discarding the original attempts in the numerous waste paper baskets placed at each desk for such an eventuality.
In fact, today’s editorial departments are devoid of paper. The only paper seen around the place is the printed version of what they all compiled electronically the previous day.
Photographs are stored digitally, just like the written word.
Computers are now common household tools and accessing the Internet is now a daily routine, a far cry from the days when e-mail addresses and Internet were strange words to the vast majority of Guyanese. We are uncertain how many computers there are in average households, but we know that there are many.
Children and students now resort to the computer for research material, a far cry from the days when people trekked to the library or delved into books for their information.
The mobile phone service is perhaps the most revealing. It highlights how Guyanese become hooked on the technology. The poorest person would not leave home without his or her cellular phone. That instrument is a part of daily life.
The local phone company has succeeded in offering a service to some 140,000 mobile phone subscribers, in the process, raking in millions of dollars each month. This could have been money spent on some other aspect of daily life at a time when people complain that they are cash-strapped.
Now the mobile phone service is getting even better. It is going beyond the ordinary use within the confines of this country. The local phone company is on the verge of introducing satellite communication. People owning that phone in Guyana can now take it practically anywhere in the western world and find that its use has not been restricted.
The new service even allows people to access their e-mail through their telephone, save pictures and download to their personal computer, and do generally anything that a subscriber in the developed world does with his mobile phone of a similar capability.
Even the land line service is a far cry from what operated a few years ago. Just about anyone can sit in his home and talk to people in any part of the world without a bother. No longer are they besieged with the term “No circuits are available”. And even better, the days when they had to access even trunk calls via an operator, a system that sometimes took days, have long gone. Very few people remember those days.
It just goes to show that with investment, this country can be as good as any. Unfortunately, the investment is not coming as it should, and the result is that we continue to lag in many areas. Our roads are not all what they should be. Yesterday, we secured some $163 million for works on four roads in the city, under the Urban Development Programme. This would see the rehabilitation of four city streets. But we need much more.
The threat of a further reduction in our earnings if the European Union goes ahead with its promised cut in the price of sugar from Guyana and the other African-Caribbean-Pacific countries does not augur well for our continued development and for the kind of technological development that goes with living in a modern world.
However, for now, we are as good as any when it comes to the use of advanced technology, especially in the field of communication.