Prime Minister, retired Brigadier Mark Phillips has announced that the latest submarine fibre optic cable, undertaken by Digicel Guyana, will add a hefty 13 terabytes of capacity – far greater than the consumption expected for years to come.
Just over a week ago, the prime minister was on site for the landing of the newest submarine fibre-optic cable aback the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.
Fast-forward to Day Five of the Budget Debates on Friday, he outlined the advancements which Guyanese can expect in the telecommunication sector for 2024. The latest landing brings the number of submarine fibre cables to three and is expected to become operational this year.
Phillips detailed, “The benefits expected includes reduction in data prices as operators further compete with each other…The newest offering will add a minimum of 13 terabytes of capacity to our international internet capacity, something that we will not be able to utilise fully based on current growth, over the next 25 years.”
Upon assuming office, Government liberalised the communications sector, and thereafter, private sector investment saw a jump by 40 percent from $10.5 billion in 2020 to $14.6 billion in 2023. From 2020 to 2022, mobile subscription also grew by 11 percent from 665,000 to 746,000.
Additionally, broadband subscription grew by 15 percent while fixed broadband subscription grew by 36 per cent.
“These developments demonstrate the benefit accruing to Guyana from Government’s execution of this policy as operators step up their capacity and offerings to give the best value for consumers’ dollars,” the PM disclosed.
Coupled with private investments is the buildout of Guyana’s national data management infrastructure. Since the liberalisation, he pointed to several positive impacts.
Bandwidth has seen a reduction of over 90 percent in 2023 – a key indicator that the monopoly has been broken. Upcoming investments include restoring the secondary data center, which experienced failures in 2022.
Hinterland connectivity has also witnessed significant improvements. Government’s satellite system has increased from 1-mbs to 10-mbs and reaching as high as 15-mbs.“The unlimited and uncapped service provides residents in the hinterland and remote communities with access to basic messaging and online connectivity.”
Turning his attention to the transformational $1.146 trillion National Budget, Phillips echoed that there is no turning back for Government in its drive towards a prosperous Guyana.“This is just the first of many trillion-dollar budgets to come. As the biggest budget ever in our country’s history, and the first to extend to a trillion dollars, the allocations in this budget all form part of the necessary and imperative plans of our Government to continue to usher in a prosperous and positive future,” he disclosed.
Budget 2024 was lauded as a strategic investment in the country’s foundation for the future and the majority funding placed in infrastructure was defended as an essential component for sustainable growth.
“The people of Guyana, we have raised their expectations. That is natural and through our budgets 2020 to 2024, we have continued to manage those expectations and deliver to the people…We have moved Guyana to a stage where citizens are participating in the development of their country and communities,” he shared.
With concrete plans, like those outlined in 2024 financial plans, Phillips said Government will ensure that every citizen benefit from the newfound oil wealth. In this way, the senior Government official told the House that people are being lifted out of poverty and equipped with the tools or resources to thrive.
Such is the case with the free solar mini grids being provided to persons in the hinterland and remote areas. Over 28,000 solar PV systems were distributed in 2023, translating to benefit for some 120,000 persons.
“More will be delivered in 2024 because the $1.146 trillion caters for the continuation of these projects. Mr Speaker, the PV systems will serve the essential social, healthcare and educational facilities. This has transformed the lives of people throughout our hinterland and riverine areas. Just go and speak to the people! The people are saying there’s more they can do now with the light that is available. More hours of production for them and studies for their children.”