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(CMC) – Dominica has signed an EC$200 million (one EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) agreement with the Irish-based telecommunication company, Digicel, which it says is intended to meet the growing telecommunication and information communication and technology (ICT) needs of the island.
The 15-year agreement ends a 50-year monopoly that was previously enjoyed by the British-owned Cable and Wireless, and Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie described the occasion as “very historic”.
“This is a clear indication that the government decision-making process is in keeping with the principles of transparency and non-discriminatory with an award being made on merit… and established protocol,” Austrie said.
He added that five corporate entities had submitted bids and the Roosevelt Skerrit administration is “satisfied that Digicel will provide the government with a range of quality services… and deliver a robust, resilient high capacity and smart network to meet the growing telecommunication and ICT needs within the public service and to the Dominican public”.
He said the network has been designed in keeping with the government’s thrust to make the island the first climate-resilient country in the world.
Digicel Chief Executive Officer Nikima Royer Jno Baptiste said the agreement signals the island’s ICT transformation.
She said all 272 government sites will be connected to a new high-speed resilient fibre optic backed up through two on-island and one off-island data centre “with substantial training and knowledge transfer to the government”.
She said as part of the contract, the government will be initially introducing “several cutting edge ICT initiatives…including CCTV monitoring including facial and licence plate recognition, contributing significantly to the safety of all Dominicans and visitors…”
She said the new technology will also allow all health centres to have access to the latest medical support globally, provide online learning opportunities for the students and provide public Wi-Fi facilities at 60 of the most popular sites across the island.
Telecommunications and Technology Minister Kelver Darroux said the telecommunications market has revolutionised operations worldwide and has taken on a much different structure when the government began the process of putting all integrating all of its offices under one umbrella in 2008.
Darroux said the signing of the contract is “especially meaningful” to the government which has identified ICT “as a critical facilitator for socio-economic development as well as a national priority area”.