Senior executives from Digicel and Flow signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Government of Jamaica for Zero Rated Access to all Government Websites on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
The signing, which took place at the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET), represents the formalization of what has already been operationalized.
“From last year, Jamaicans have been able to access, essential government websites, including educational services from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, whether or not they have credit on their data plan. What is new, however, is that now, all 265 government websites are zero rated, thanks to the partnership between Digicel, Flow and government,” explained Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, MP, who stewards MSET.
For members of the public who have not yet benefitted from Zero-Rated Access to government websites, please ensure that you turn on your data, whether or not you have funds on the plan, before attempting to access the website. This secures connectivity.
Participating in the signing were Rochelle Cameron, VP, Legal & Regulatory & Company Secretary, FLOW, Maia Wilson, Legal and Regulatory Director, Digicel, Hillary Alexander, Permanent Secretary, MSET and Minister Wheatley.
In endorsing the partnership, Garry Sinclair, Country Manager & President, Caribbean, noted, “As a key medium for transformation, technology has redefined the way we access, consume and share information. With this administration’s focus on the provision of free public Wi-Fi zones across the island – an initiative also powered by Flow, it is not only fitting but also timely that we explore other ways of using technology to inform, educate and empower our people.”
Mr. Sinclair also commended the government and Minister Wheatley and his team in particular, for driving this initiative and expressed a desire to partner with government on similar projects that benefit Jamaicans.
David Butler, the CEO, Digicel Jamaica, also shared; “Since June 2016, Digicel customers have logged over 43,000 megabytes worth of free access to government departments via the service,” which confirms the value of this service to the public.
He also made the point that, “zero-rating has been proven to increase consumer choice, whilst bringing people online.” Mr Butler also noted that Digicel was “pleased to be taking the next step in formalizing this partnership agreement with MSET to deliver on its mandate to deepen Internet penetration throughout Jamaica.”
Minister Wheatley, during his Sectoral Presentation last year, had introduced his administration’s 10 Point ICT Plan, of which Zero-Rated Access was the first priority.
In delivering on all pillars of the Government’s 10 Point ICT Plan, MSET and its Agencies, specifically the Universal Service Fund (USF) and E-Learning Jamaica, in 2016:
- Approved the Roadmap and Action Plan for ICT Transformation;
- Continued the commissioning of Community Access Points (CAP), with free Internet access for citizens (10 in 2016, in 7 parishes);
- Commissioned two (2) Public Internet Access (Wi-Fi) spaces
(Mandela Park and Devon House)
- Completed an upgrade of the eGovJa-hosted Central Repository for Education Materials (CREM) to the child-friendly Virtual learning Environment (VLE) and
- Issued 247 new spectrum licenses, facilitating maritime, aeronautical, amateur and mobile services.