Speech given by Mr Urling, at the opening of The New Digital Technology Store

I am delighted to be here today and I thank the owners and organizers for the invitation to join you in celebrating this real milestone of achievement. I offer my sincerest congratulations to you on this momentous occasion and to a truly well deserved achievement and great triumph for your company in the opening of this new store.

This is the second such opening of your store that I have been to in the past two years. I remember the opening of the grove headquarters. I know it’s not an easy undertaking to expand a business operation. We are not here today as a result of luck or accidental forces but rather what we see here today requires enormous risk, sacrifice, hard work, dedication and commitment from employees to owners to make today’s launch a reality.

On the national level, your investment today represents a glaring embodiment and exemplar of the belief that I hold that the single most important development that impacted positively on our economy last year, and which I expect to continue into this year, and that is the determined and steadfast resilience of our private sector. Despite having to deal with a number of challenges including rising costs, stalled infrastructure projects, political wrangling, lower commodity prices, high electricity costs, and lack of skilled labour, just to name a few, our private sector remained undeterred. Private sector participants continued to invest and increase productivity, which has resulted in sustained economic growth. Your bold investment continues this tradition!

Your company seeks to offer solutions to both private consumers and business to improve their lives and business processes and systems. On the commercial side of things, businesses need to be aware of the availability of new technologies, whether it be hardware, software, or communications technology, that they can adopt and implement to support or control their business processes, enable better management decisions, or to provide a competitive advantage.

Your products and services offered fall under the umbrella of the ICT sector. The ICT sector is a very important one and is one of the sectors that are spearheading the country’s diversification efforts away from our high dependence on primary commodity products. THE ICT sector is a cross cutting component of every productive sector. The growth in ICT has made it easier for both public and private sectors to increase productivity and become more efficient in their operations. It is unthinkable now to imagine even for a second a world without mobile phones, tablets, personal computers and the Internet.

As a country we have to accelerate the pace of ICT development, we need to invest more in ICT infrastructure, invest in education initiatives to improve the available skill set, craft and effect enabling legislation, and free up the telecommunications sector. The government’s e-Governance network is a significant intervention in the local ICT market. This will enable for a more efficient delivery of Government services to the citizenry.

If these are all fast tracked, it sets a firm foundation for Guyana’s efforts at attracting FDI into the sector. Already we are seeing a number of global call centers opening up in Guyana; the most conspicuous example is the Qualfon campus in providence, which is expected to employ some 6000 Guyanese. Another major sticking point that cannot be divorced from the ICT sector has been our policy makers’ sloth at ensuring the legislating and enacting of modern Intellectual Property Rights Legislation. The GCCI has taken the step to move this process forward and we have commissioned a study to inform the effects on the private sector and the economy as a whole of not having modern IPL legislation.

I want to close this morning by restating my congratulations to the owners of this investment and I also want to take this opportunity to wish you the best as you continue to grow your company into the future. Good day and thank you.