Increase in ICT access tied to liberalisation of telecoms sector – PM

…says there has been accelerated development in ICT infrastructure

The increase in information communication technology (ICT) access throughout Guyana can be tied to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s bold decision to liberalise the telecommunication sector soon after they entered office in 2020.

Prime Minister Brig (ret’d) Mark Phillips

This is according to Prime Minister Brigadier (retd) Mark Phillips, who was at the time at the Tain Campus of the University of Guyana in Berbice at a job fair organised by Teleperformance. According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated an accelerated development in the ICT infrastructure, something that was boosted by liberalisation.
“What is happening in Guyana today is, through the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, we have expansion of the infrastructure, and now we have technology where basically you can work from anywhere. So Teleperformance is here with us. And at the end of this process, I know many of you will be employed, some to work from an established building and some of you will be given the equipment and training to start working almost immediately from your home,” he said.
“We had two years of COVID, that restricted many of us to our homes. And during that time, we had – as a result of embracing the technology – what is deemed as an accelerated development in the sense that, embracing the ICT technology, we’ve now been able to work from anywhere, including from home.”
Afterwards, the Prime Minister went into detail about the expansion of ICT infrastructure and what it means for the country. This includes the fibre-optic services in Essequibo and Berbice. In fact, he noted that the expansion of ICT infrastructure is at the stage where the investments in infrastructure can be leveraged.
“Teleperformance came and invested in Guyana, and at a time when we would have already liberalised the telecoms sector in Guyana. You would recall on October 5, 2020, less than or just about two months after we assumed office, it was a manifesto promise that we made that once we win elections and assume office, one of the first things we would do is liberalise the telecoms sector.
“We kept our promise. In 2020, we did liberalise the telecoms sector, and what has happened since then (has been) a flurry of expansion of the telecommunication ICT- related infrastructure throughout Guyana,” Prime Minister Phillips explained.
In October 2020, Prime Minister Phillips, who is the subject Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications, announced that Government had issued Commencement Orders, fully bringing into force the Telecommunications Act 2016 (the “Act”) and the Public Utilities Commission Act 2016. This was done less than three months after the PPP Government took office.
The former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government had passed the Telecommunication (Amendment) Bill to liberalise the telecoms sector since 2016. That administration had passed the bill with the stated intention of ending the monopoly which GTT has enjoyed.
It was reported that under the coalition Government, the liberalisation of the sector was heavily dependent upon the settlement of a US$44 million tax claim against GTT by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). According to reports, the local telecommunication giant had wanted the tax debt settled before moving ahead with liberalisation. As such, the former Government had failed to bring into force the Act that it had passed.
Following the announcement by the PPP/C Government, Digicel, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), and E-Networks received their operating licences and accompanying documents from Prime Minister Phillips. (G3)