Edited by Paul Cook, Colin Kirkpatrick, Martin Minogue and David Parker
Chapter 21: Telecommunications in Guyana: from state ownership to de-monopolization?
Claude V. Chang INTRODUCTION The fundamental changes in telecommunications worldwide over the last six years have not been lost on Guyana. To the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government of Guyana, ‘a phone in every home’ and bringing Internet access to every school child in Guyana were campaign promises too good to pass up in the 2001 general elections – such were the perceived expectations for telecommunication services. Even before electioneering began in earnest the Guyanese President, Bharrat Jagdeo, registered his dissatisfaction with the slow pace of network rollout and threatened to de-monopolize the industry. In his view, information technology (IT) is central to economic development and to achieving the objectives of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) required under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiatives and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF). It also figures prominently in the National Development Strategy (NDS) developed by a cross-section of civil society in Guyana. For its part, the incumbent monopoly provider, Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company Limited (GT&T), has taken the position that since privatization of the industry in 1991, it has improved both the quality of and access to telecommunications services. To support its position, the company points to the increase in investment in plant and equipment and to the increase in the number of service connections since 1990. It further claims that its progress has been hampered by adverse regulatory practices. With the re-election of the PPP/C in 2001, the campaign promise on the issue of...
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