The telecommunications company, Digicel, has signed a signed a multi-million information communication technology (ICT) contract with three Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as part of the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP).
Information Minister Camillo Gonsalves said that the agreement was signed with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St. Lucia.
“A lot of what we want to do developmentally in the ICT space requires greater infrastructure and this CARCIP programme is going to improve, dramatically, the fibre optic backbone in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and will also take fibre from St. Vincent, to the Grenadines, all the way down to Grenada,” Gonsalves said.
He told reporters that customers in the Grenadines currently get broadband through microwave transmission, which is limited and certain speeds are not possible in a sustained way, especially as more people “burden” those facilities.
“If we are serious about developing business, the hotel sector and services throughout the Grenadines, we have to lay cable and this is a programme that we are going to in collaboration with the World Bank, being co-ordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU).
“It’s a 15-year contract with Digicel where they would enhance the backbone on St. Vincent, connect all government offices to that backbone, connect schools to that backbone, and connect the Grenadines to that backbone and that is going to allow us to seriously be able to talk about e-government and smart cities and safe cities and connective health services and all of these things electronically,” Gonsalves said.
“To do all of that in a reliable way, you need this fibre backbone in place that is reliable and that it is operating in a way that is benefiting the state and the people. It will, I am told, lead to a reduction in cost, but, as always, we will believe that when see it,” he said, adding that the project would also improve the attractiveness of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to investors.
“The potential value to investors wanting to come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to consumers who want more reliable service and to people in the further flung areas of the country and to state operations is very, very important and I want to thank Digicel for bidding on this project and for going through many, many different iterations of the contract. It was a very long negotiation and I want to thank Digicel very much for their support,” he said.
In a statement, Digicel said that the project in collaboration with technology partners, Cisco and Fortinet, will result in the telecommunication company delivering “a future proofed fibre optic network infrastructure, with every Government building benefiting from high speed fibre connections and making 21st century government initiatives like smart cities, safe cities, connected health and advanced learning a reality.”
It said that the deal is designed to enhance ICT services among government institutions, enable small and medium enterprises to accelerate their growth and develop the skill sets of ICT professionals.
“This is a great example of future thinking. By delivering a world-class digital highway, the governments of St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have set the gold standard for establishing a leadership position in the global digital economy,” said Digicel Group chief executive officer, Alexander Matuschka.
“The collective vision of these leaders of a digitally-driven society has the capacity to create untold opportunities for the people of these countries. We could not be prouder to have been selected to deliver this transformational project and to be helping to drive economic growth and development for Governments, businesses and private citizens.”