Work is progressing robustly with phase two of the Government of Saint Lucia Island-wide Network Project more popularly referred to as the GiNet Project. GiNet Phase Two will make available a number of Wi-Fi ‘hotspots’ in six districts comprising twenty-seven locations. The project aims to create an environment for greater information sharing among all groups of society in urban and rural communities particularly where there is low internet penetration. At a brief ceremony on Tuesday March 16, 2021, the Government of Saint Lucia expressed gratitude to the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for the significant partnership in the implementation of the GiNet project. The current components of the GiNet Phase Two consist of electrical installation, running of optical-fiber cable, fiber splicing and installation of Access Points.
The Division of Public Sector Modernization (DPSM) under the Department of the Public Service is the main executing agency for the GiNet project. DPSM’s Director Mr. Marlon Narcisse said, “The challenge for universal access to broadband and bridging the digital divide never before has been so glaring.” He added, “The global crisis has demonstrated the critical role of connectivity and the importance of having a strong resilient and reliable ICT network to support increasing user expectations and online transactions. The establishment of the GiNet serves as a direct response to the gaps that exist in bringing high- speed internet to marginalized areas where stakeholders do not need to own a computer in order to access government and public services.”
The GiNet project creates an opportunity where residents have free internet access in areas such as community parks and Human Resource Development Centers, thus reducing the cost of access to information. The implementation of GiNet Phase Two is considered timely, since the majority of schools have had to resort to online instruction due to the COVID-19, pandemic.
Ambassador of Taiwan to Saint Lucia, His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, said his government was committed to assisting Saint Lucia advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“The GiNet project, the Ambassador added, not only will improve the urban/rural digital divide but will also serve as a factor to advance the six priorities under Saint Lucia’s Medium -term Development Strategy-2020-2023, and more broadly the vision of building a smart nation.”
Permanent Secretary in the Department of the Public Service, Ms. Peggy-Ann Soudatt, underscored the important role of GiNet in upgrading the lives of Saint Lucians. “Last year was certainly a difficult year for the world and Saint Lucia was certainly not spared. GiNet will help Saint Lucians do business with government as the Government goes online with the DigiGOV project. GiNet will be the glue that binds everything together for many people. This wouldn’t have been possible without the immeasurable support of the Government of Taiwan,” she added.
Each Wi-Fi device under the second phase of the GiNet project is expected to provide coverage to approximately fifty users at any one point. A total of Ninety-One wireless access points will be deployed using Sector and Omni directional antennae. The sector antennae have a 120-degree coverage and the range of each devices is around 150Ft.