“Urban and rural digital divide” was the catalyst for one of the Taiwanese government’s most recent undertakings in Saint Lucia; the Government Island Wide Network Project (GINet). This project aims to help develop local, wireless network areas in public zones of towns and villages. On Wednesday January 24, a presentation was held at the Office of the Prime Minister, during which Taiwanese ambassador to Saint Lucia His Excellency Douglas C.T. Shen and Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet spoke on the completion of phase one of the initiative.
At the ceremony, Ambassador Chen stated, “ I am more than happy to announce that the Planning and Design phase of the GINet project has been completed and, the basic training section has been conducted as well. The project has stepped into installation phase.” According to the Ambassador, this initiative with Taiwan, which is considered one of the leading countries in the world for the provision of free wifi to citizens and visitors, will help to create a better life for the people of Saint Lucia.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet also explained that one of the core purposes behind the project is to give locals, particularly young people across the island, equal opportunity to access the Internet, especially in an era where Internet access is essential to survival. He posed this question to the room, “If we are going to be talking about equity for all… it starts with Internet. How many young, potential, future business people are coming from rural areas and are disadvantaged by the fact that they do not have access to the Internet?”
The GINet project is expected to complete its second phase in the coming months with the aim of establishing a total of 63 hotspots in five Saint Lucian districts; Castries, Dennery, Micoud, Vieux Fort and Castries. Ambassador Shen explained, “Citizens will need to use their local phone number to register and then start to enjoy free wifi service.”
The GINet project was made possible through a donation by the government of Taiwan in the amount of US$3.28m, with the Saint Lucian government providing the remaining US$720,000.