Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Community access points being retrofitted with solar panels

Published:Wednesday | November 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley assists students in accessing the Internet at the opening of the Mayfield All-Age School Community Resource Centre in St Elizabeth last week.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley says community access points (CAP) across the island are being retrofitted with solar panels in order to make them more energy efficient.

He said the objective is to ensure that the overall operation of these sites "is as cost-effective as possible".

Wheatley informed that he had commissioned an audit of all the CAP sites, and "one of the things we immediately found out was that the electricity costs to maintain these centres were alarmingly high".

"That's when I realised we had to find a cheaper way to bring those (expenses) down," he said, noting that cost is one of the greatest obstacles to Internet access in most countries.

Wheatley was addressing teachers and students at the opening of the Mayfield All-Age School Community Resource Centre in St Elizabeth last week.

The project, which was undertaken by the Universal Access Fund (UAF) at a cost of $4,617,310, will serve as a CAP site. A $3,261,210 centre was also opened at the neighbouring Top Hill Primary on the day.

A total of 257 CAP sites have been established across the island by the UAF.

The minister said through the CAP project, communities no longer have to worry about information and communications technology (ICT) access and affordability.

Wheatley noted further, that "when we establish a community access point, it is not just about facilitating your ability to read your email. It is not just about being able to do research for your homework, check your Facebook page, or simply to browse the Internet. When we establish a CAP site, it is also about using ICT to find a path to prosperity. As Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, pointed out during a speech at the United Nations in 2015, Internet access is the key to ending extreme poverty."