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Guyana, situated in South America’s North Atlantic coast, aims to implement country-wide digital governance by the end of the decade. The transformation will ensure development, inclusiveness, and quality of life to all citizens around the country.
The South American country of Guyana with a population of less than a million has started solving a distinct, geographical problem: accessibility to government services is vastly different in coastal, more densely populated areas from its hinterlands. To address the issue, as well as to continue pursuing its goal of becoming digitally driven by 2030, Guyana is taking urgent actions, needed to fill the gaps in public services in different regions.
One of the aims of authorities in Guyana is to develop an effective e-Governance system and move government services to digital platforms, to address the challenges of delivering services to citizens in rural communities.
The ICT Access and E-Services for Hinterland, Poor and Remote Communities project, initiated by the Government of Guyana, encompasses four main elements: strengthening the e-government policy and legislation environment, improving access to ICT across the country, facilitating digital access to public services and information, and increasing the digital literacy of regional communities, enabling them to use e-services.
Under this project, a capacity-building strategy to address the identified gaps in ICT in the Government of Guyana was devised in partnership with NRD Companies, an international provider of gov-tech, IT solutions, and consulting services.
NRD Companies, which has experience leading similar digitization projects in 50 countries, has already conducted a thorough analysis of the country’s ICT capabilities of more than 50 governmental institutions and 12 ministries. The results of the analysis became the basis for the ICT refinement strategy.
“Our assessment indicates that Guyana has massive potential for digital transformation. Unlocking it will be a crucial part of reaching the goals of digital governance by 2030,” says Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies.
NRD Companies will also take part in the modernization of The Division of Social Protection and Health of Guyana, instrumental to ensure the social security of rural communities. NRD Companies will prepare the technical requirements for the creation of a better information management system.
Benefits for people
While the strategy devised by NRD Companies is primarily aimed at modernizing the organization of state ICT infrastructure, the infrastructure itself will become the basis for government e-services that will benefit every citizen, particularly those living in remote and underserved areas. The ability to provide online services will help the government better serve citizens in areas of social support, healthcare, education, and other critical services . In the long run, it will set foundations to contribute to UN Sustainable development goals, such as lower poverty, better health and well-being of the population, reduced inequalities, increased gender equality, and others.
The Government of Guyana aims to provide e-Government services through 200 ICT hubs distributed in remote communities and, thus, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public services to all, in particular those living in remote areas .
According to the Prime Minister of Guyana, Brigadier (Ret’d), the Honourable Mark Phillips, the success of this project is crucial for the development of Guyana. “Eliminating the digital divide is a part of development in any country. [...] COVID has forced accelerated digitization on the entire world and Guyana cannot afford to be left behind. [...] This project has the potential of having us achieve the goal of connecting our hinterland, poor and remote communities. We have identified 200 of those communities to be connected and to benefit from everything that comes under the umbrella of e-governance,” he noted during a meeting with Jairo Valverde, Guyana’s Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, sponsoring the project, and Jose Eguren, Senior Advisor.
“The impact of the project will go beyond what we have been able to imagine because once those communities have the hubs, and once the Government’s e-services are developed, it’s going to improve the integration of all Guyana,” Valverde said in the same meeting.
Other countries’ experiences show that the introduction of digital public services not only increases their accessibility—it also drastically reduces the time and effort needed to reap their benefits. Digitization of government services also boosts the economy, as more foreign investments are attracted to modernized countries.