Community Access Points Will Reduce ICT Gap – Mullings


Minister of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications, Clive Mullings has said that the placement of Community Access Points (CAPs) at strategic locations across the island is a direct initiative of Government to reduce the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) gap and to level the playing field for all.
“We see CAPs as a viable solution to bridging the digital divide that leaves far too many of our people without access to information and a world of new possibilities. A number of these established CAPs are doing exceptionally well, integrating the available computer technologies to different job areas, so that even more possibilities may be exploited and explored in areas, such as music and video production, creative writing and publishing,” he said.
The Minister was speaking today (March 12), at the opening of the Jamaica Community Access Point Network Conference, which is being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston from March 12-14.
Mr. Mullings informed that to date, 11 CAPs have been established across the island, with a distribution of 42 computers.
However, the Minister said that broadband penetration remains one of the challenges at some of the centres, as “this limits the ability to equip the centres to offer the full range of services and to get more Jamaicans in these communities on the information super highway.”
Mr. Mullings said the government has been making in-roads in this regard, with the establishment of a partnership with Cable and Wireless Jamaica for the provision of ADSL service in six of the centres.
“This of course is not sufficient, as our vision is that all access points be equipped with the service. We are getting inputs from the various stakeholders, so that the submission can be put before Cabinet,” he informed.
Another challenge in taking CAPs forward, Mr. Mullings noted, is that of forging greater partnerships with private sector interests. He explained that globally, where CAPs are established, this is usually done through collaboration with multi-lateral agencies, national partners and organizations that are able to provide various levels and types of expertise in different areas to serve communities.
“We need to see greater private sector involvement in the development and growth of CAPs, and generally in helping to reduce the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those who do not,” the Minister emphasised.
Stressing the importance of e-readiness, and a seamless government, Mr. Mullings pointed out that when a country does more online, the economy becomes more transparent and efficient, and that in fact, ICT presents a golden opportunity to reduce bureaucracy.
“We have a lot to do in pushing the e-government process forward and the building of CAPs must be seen as a part of this whole process. It means therefore, that we have to look closely at what we have been doing as a country in terms of the application of ICT, including the extent to which we use technologies to improve access. The government will continue to play a key role, not only in the establishment of facilities such as CAPs, but more generally facilitating national e-readiness,” the Minister said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, and Chair at the opening, Dr. Jean Dixon told the audience that the establishment of CAPs was an innovative way to achieve the objective of providing access to all citizens.
“This innovation is stimulating entrepreneurship as well as opening the lines of communication between citizens and government,” she said.
The aim of the conference, themed: ‘Igniting and Sustaining Community Development in the 21st Century,’ is to bring together persons and organisations that have been operating community-based centres, to share experiences, and to explore opportunities for networking.

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