JIS News

More than 400 public entities have been connected to the national broadband network as the Government continues its drive to provide more citizens with access to high-speed Internet.

This was disclosed by Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz, who noted that this increased connectivity has been facilitated by the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is the arm of Government mandated to ensure that there is universal access to the Internet.

“So far, we have connected 42 libraries, 63 health centres, 60 Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) facilities, 69 post offices and 251 educational institutions to the islandwide broadband network,” he said, while addressing the Jamaica Computer Society (JCS) BizTech Conference – Virtual Summit and Knowledge Forum – on Thursday (November 19).

He noted that putting in place the infrastructure to ensure Internet connectivity for all Jamaicans is a key priority for the Government, “and we are committed to working with our partners to connect every citizen to the broadband network”.

“In a COVID-19 (coronavirus) environment, we have seen where the need for this service (broadband) has increased, especially in the area of education with remote learning,” Mr. Vaz said.

The Minister pointed out that in due course, he will be making a statement to Parliament updating Jamaica on the national broadband network, “and also what we can do in the short-term as it relates to connectivity, especially in light of the current pandemic”.

Mr. Vaz also informed that work is progressing in connecting all segments of Government through Govnet – a secured, high speed, reliable and resilient wide area network linking government ministries, departments and agencies – to facilitate shared services, such as data centre computing services, a consolidated voice communication system and consolidated email system.

“To date, the Government has installed underground fibre-optic cables with sufficient capacity to connect all government agencies in Kingston, Spanish Town and Portmore. These three urban centres account for 80 per cent of all Government ministries, departments and agencies. We have also begun to connect some schools in the Corporate Area,” Mr. Vaz informed.

Additionally, through e-Gov Jamaica Limited, Mr. Vaz pointed out that the Government is increasing access to public services with the myGovJm app that can improve citizens’ access to the Government in terms of participation in the decision-making process.

Mr. Vaz emphasised that there is “no doubt that the future is digital,” which makes the incorporation of technology a crucial pillar of development and growth.

“The creation of a technology-enabled society is, therefore, critical to Jamaica’s advancement. To have any chance of survival we must strengthen our local capacities and build the necessary partnerships, so that we can develop our home-grown innovators who will take us far into the future,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr. Vaz praised the JCS for staging the longest-running tech summit in Jamaica, which “brings together tech experts for knowledge sharing and networking in order to advance Jamaica’s digital agenda”.

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