Friday 10 July, 2020

Island-wide free internet project begins

St Lucia is well on its way to providing island-wide free internet service to its citizens and visitors via the installation of Wi-Fi hotspots.

This is happening through an initiative called GINet, a project spearheaded by Republic of China (Taiwan) which contributed over US$3 million to the US$4 million cost associated with the project.

Some 63 Wi-Fi hotspots, in 33 locations in five constituencies, are presently being installed in the first phase of the project.

The constituencies the hotspots are being installed in are Castries, Dennery, Micoud, Vieux Fort and Canaries.

Taiwan’ Ambassador to St. Lucia Douglas Shen said the project, which commenced in 2015, aimed to enhance the Internet penetration rate in Saint Lucia by developing wireless network system.

“Today, we are here for an important milestone. I am more than happy to announce that the planning and design phases of the GINet Project have been completed, and the basic training sessions have been conducted as well. The project has stepped into installation phase,” he said at a small ceremony to mark the installation phase of the project earlier today.

According to the Ambassador, St Lucians just need to use their local phone number to register and to enjoy free Wi-Fi service.

“Taiwan is one of the leading countries in the world to offer free Wi-Fi on a mass scale to its citizens and foreign tourists. We are willing to share our technology and developing experience with Saint Lucia. Since 2007, together with Saint Lucia government, we have jointly accomplished several projects such as, the Advanced Transport Licensing Authority System, Crime Management System, Agriculture Resource System, Civil Status Registry System and electronic document and records management system,” Ambassador Shen said.

“In conclusion, it is my firm belief that through consistent cooperation in ICT related projects between our two countries, we can create better life for the people of Saint Lucia and the relationship between our two countries will last forever,” he said.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who attended the ceremony, said government aimed to develop a wireless area in towns and villages in the country to provide assistance to persons conducting business at a low cost.

“An objective of this project is to help increase overall internet use and as well as encourage businesses alongside government agencies to take advantage of the GINet services to provide more diverse and innovative services to residents and the tourists,” Chastanet said.

According to the prime minister, the 2010 population and housing census showed that internet penetration in the country was 43 percent with persons having access residing in Castries and Gros Islet.

“This raised questions about the digital divide that existed that placed some communities at a great disadvantage. In this era where internet access is becoming more essential to our survival, with the support of the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan the GINet project had been initiated as a response to this situation,” he said.

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