Community Access Points Being Retrofitted With Solar Panels

Photo: Garwin Davis Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, assists students in accessing the Internet at the opening of the Mayfield All-Age School Community Resource Centre in St. Elizabeth on November 1.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says Community Access Points (CAP) across the island are being retrofitted with solar panels in order to make them more energy-efficient.
  • He said the objective is to ensure that the overall operation of these sites “is as cost-effective as possible”.
  • Dr. Wheatley said the Government believes that every single Jamaican is entitled to access the benefits of the Internet. “That, essentially, is why we are here today. We see universal access as one of the paths to growth, and it is for this Government a national priority,” he pointed out.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says Community Access Points (CAP) across the island are being retrofitted with solar panels in order to make them more energy-efficient.

He said the objective is to ensure that the overall operation of these sites “is as cost-effective as possible”.

Dr. Wheatley informed that he had commissioned an audit of all the CAP sites, and “one of the things we immediately found out was that the electricity costs to maintain these centres were alarmingly high”.

“That’s when I realised we had to find a cheaper way to bring those (expenses) down,” he said, noting that cost is one of the greatest obstacles to Internet access in most countries.

Dr. Wheatley was addressing teachers and students at the opening of the Mayfield All-Age School Community Resource Centre in St. Elizabeth on November 1.

The project, which was undertaken by the Universal Access Fund (UAF) at a cost of $4,617,310, will serve as a CAP site. A $3,261,210 centre was also opened at the neighbouring Top Hill Primary on the day.

A total of 257 CAP sites have been established across the island by the UAF.

The Minister said through the CAP project, communities no longer have to worry about information and communications technology (ICT) access and affordability.

“We are breaking down the barriers. Many people in these communities cannot afford computers, and, as a result, may be digitally illiterate. With the establishment of these CAP sites, we are seeking to change that situation,” he noted.

Dr. Wheatley said the Government believes that every single Jamaican is entitled to access the benefits of the Internet. “That, essentially, is why we are here today. We see universal access as one of the paths to growth, and it is for this Government a national priority,” he pointed out.

“We want all Jamaicans – young, old and in-between – to be able to access the Internet, to use ICT to learn more, find easier ways to do things, and, most of all, to better their lives,” he added.

Dr. Wheatley noted, further, that “when we establish a Community Access Point, it is not just about facilitating your ability to read your e-mail. It is not just about being able to do research for your homework, check your Facebook page, or simply to browse the Internet. When we establish a CAP site, it is also about using ICT to find a path to prosperity. As Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (pointed out) during a speech at the United Nations (UN) in 2015, Internet access is the key to ending extreme poverty”.

 

JIS Social