News
January 21, 2014
Digital divide exists on two levels in SVG – Minister

This country’s Information and Technology (IT) sector continues to develop; however the digital divide still exists.{{more}}

According to Camillo Gonsalves, Minister responsible for Information Technology, a digital divide still exists and it exists on two levels – between the developed world and the developing world, and here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not.

He quoted sections of a document compiled by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) called “Measuring the Information Society 2013.”

The document ranks countries in the world according to their ICT development status and in this regard, St Vincent and the Grenadines ranks third behind Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. In the entire Americas, SVG is, however, ranked 10th, Gonsalves cited from the document.

“The not so good news is that that only places us 63rd in the world, out of about 160 odd states that were surveyed,” he said.

“Not bad, but a good deal of improvement to make,” Gonsalves continued.

“In the access sub-index, where they pool things such as fixed line connections, mobile connections, bandwidth, number of homes with a computer and access to the Internet at home, this country still ranks 3rd in the region and 52nd in the world.

“But then we begin to slip,” Gonsalves said.

“When you look closer at the numbers, and look at the number of people actually accessing the Internet, we see that SVG is ranked fifth in the region,” he said.

“Which means we have the connection, we have the ability, but for some reason there are other people that are accessing more than we are and using more than we are,” Gonsalves said.

He said that, based on the data supplied in the document, there is some wonderful work being done in SVG right now regarding the ICT sector, in getting computers in the hands of the people and in providing facilities such as computer labs.

“There are two problems in SVG,” he said, “according to the report. Firstly, there is an absence of mobile broadband. The other area where this country ranked poorly was in the area of the cost for Internet broadband.”

Gonsalves said that based on the figures, SVG ranked 105th out of 160 countries (eighth in the region) for what we pay for broadband Internet.

Countries that pay less in the region for Internet broadband are Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, St Kitts, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St Lucia.

“I have been saying from my first day as a minister – our Internet is overpriced and under powered,” he said.

“We have to work with the private sector to bring down the price of Internet.” (DD)