Billions in funding for IT projects

Approximately $2.4 billion has been spent by the Universal Access Fund (UAF) to date to establish projects aimed at providing Jamaicans with access to the information super highway. Managing Director of the UAF, Hugh Cross, made the disclosure at the official opening of the Buff Bay Information Technology Centre and Internet Café in Portland last week.

He said the projects include the information technology programme being conducted in high schools by the e-learning Jamaica Company and the setting up of internet access points at libraries, post offices, and other community points. He said the Buff Bay facility, which was established through funding from the UAF, could rightly be regarded as the parish’s third access point, with two other centres set up in Port Antonio and Fellowship last year.

A government agency, the UAF was established in 2005 with the mandate of providing an island-wide broadband network that will allow public access to the information super highway through schools, public libraries, post offices and other agencies and institutions. The work is being financed through a service levy on incoming international calls.

According to Mr. Cross, the UAF is fully committed to providing Jamaicans with access to the internet as part of the overall development process. He informed that the Fund has so far granted funding for 61 projects amounting to approximately $200 million, with approval pending for three major projects at a cost of $269 million.

He also pointed out that 90 applications for projects, totaling $272 million, are being processed. The UAF Managing Director said a number of criteria have to be met before a project can be approved. These include the existence of a physical facility to house the operation, a good leadership team to manage the undertaking, and assurance of its sustainability.

The $6 million Buff Bay Information Technology Centre and Internet Café, which is located at the Lynch Park Sports Complex, is equipped with 24 computers and a server. Other contributors were: Member of Parliament for Western Portland, Hon. Daryl Vaz, through the Community Development Fund (CDF); Microsoft Jamaica; Social Development Commission (SDC); Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS); and the Lynch Park Management Committee.

Source – JIS

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