St Lucia government signs MOU for island-wide Wi-Fi
Saint Lucian residents and visitors are to benefit from a US$4 million Government Island-Wide Network Project (GiNet), aimed at improving the urban and rural digital divide and low internet penetration rate. The five districts that will be targeted during the first phase of the GiNet project are: Castries, Canaries, Dennery, Micoud and Vieux-Fort, where the necessary infrastructure will be placed in key public areas such as schools, community parks, and tourist attraction sites.
During the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the GiNet project earlier this week, Taiwan ambassador, James Chang, disclosed that his government would be contributing US$3.28 million towards the GiNet project.
“I believe that this project will be important to the socio-economic well- being of these communities. The general public, tourists and business passengers, will be able to use wireless local area network – WLAN, in public areas such as government agencies, schools, and the rural areas. A total of 70 Wi-Fi spots will be established,” Chang said.
The GiNet Project will be executed over four years, 2015-2018, and although the goal is to increase internet penetration from 11 percent to 30 percent over that period, the government of Saint Lucia will be embarking on several other initiatives that could realize a 50 percent internet penetration rate.
Minister for public service, sustainable development, energy, science and technology, Senator Dr James Fletcher, believes that the implementation of the GiNet project will also facilitate the expanded and decentralized delivery of government services.
“We cannot be asking our people to move into the digital age; we cannot be making more government services available to them online; we cannot be telling them that they need to access the wealth of education and other business opportunities that are available on the internet and not provide them with the tools, with the services, with the infrastructure to make this happen; and that is why we very diligently set to increase the rate of internet penetration,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher has described the GiNet project as “the most monumental of all the ICT projects to date”.
It is the intention of the government of Saint Lucia, in the near future, to use other resources at its disposal, such as the Universal Service Grant, to bridge the digital gap in other communities on the island. As such, the next phase of the GiNet project will be extended to Laborie, Choiseul, Dennery North, and Vieux Fort North.