Happy to have delivered liberalised telecoms sector within 1st 100 days – PM
Reflecting on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s first 100 days in office, Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier Mark Phillips has said that the Administration was quite pleased that it was able to deliver on its campaign promise of liberalising the telecommunications sector in a matter of weeks.
According to Phillips, liberalisation of the telecommunications sector is something that should have happened a long time ago in Guyana.
Some two months after assuming office, the PPP/C Government announced the official liberalisation of the sector on October 5 – bringing an end to the 30-year monopoly that was held by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph company, which has since been rebranded GTT.
“We are happy in the sense that it was a campaign promise by the PPP/C, in our manifesto, leading up to the March 2 elections, we told the people that one of the front-burner issues will be liberalisation of the telecommunication sector … and we are happy that we were able to do it well within the first 100 days,” the Prime Minister expressed during an interview with the State-owned Department of Public Information (DPI).
Phillips noted that already Guyanese have started to reap the benefits of a liberalised telecoms sector, since they were now paying less per minute per call and per bandwidth for Internet access.
“There are more investors who are approaching the telecommunication sector, and at the end of it all, everything will redound to the benefit of Guyanese,” he added.
The Prime Minister posited that another important aspect of a liberalised telecoms sector was that it would allow for the bridging of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) divide “so more and more communities like in the hinterland, which are not receiving good service…their service would improve.”
He underlined that competition would eventually lead to better service and better pricing in the ICT sector.
The liberalisation of the telecommunications sector has set the stage for the installation of 5G services here and increased competition to allow for more fibre-optic cables to come in and data operations, among other benefits.
Indeed, the two major players in the industry – GTT and Digicel – have since announced a number of initiatives following the liberalisation. Also, some 50 companies have also expressed an interest in investing in the sector.
Turning his attention to the energy sector, the Prime Minister admitted that reliability and affordability of electricity would remain a challenge for a while in Guyana. He noted, however, that the Government was committed to finding solutions to the problem and has already taken a number of steps in this regard.
He outlined that as it currently stood, the national grid was producing just about what was needed in Guyana. On this basis, he pointed to an immediate plan to increase the electricity that is available by purchasing power locally.
Giftland, he noted, is capable of providing between four and five megawatts of power and the Government is hoping to get an additional 10 megawatts to satisfy demand, especially during the Christmas season.
PM Phillips said in the short to medium term, the Government was pushing to have the gas-to-shore project implemented by 2024. He noted that this project was expected to deliver an additional 200 to 250 megawatts of power to the citizens of Guyana.
Additionally, he said, the gas-to-shore project will see a massive reduction in electricity rates – somewhere around 50 per cent.
“By Christmas 2024, Guyana would not have to worry about reliable electricity,” he assured.
He further pointed to the renewable energy project which is another important part of Guyana’s energy mix. This, he noted, will include mini hydros, solar farms, and wind farms, and will serve to provide clean and cheap energy to remote areas in Guyana.
He also cited the PPP/C’s flagship Amaila Falls Hydro Power project, which he said would be placed on the front burner again as it has great potential to solve the country’s electricity woes.
“Our Government is a people-centred government, whatever we do, the people of Guyana – and it doesn’t matter whether they voted for the PPP/C at the last elections: we are now the Government – our developmental approach is for all the people of Guyana,” Phillips outlined.