He was speaking at the launch of the Computers for Communities programme at the Hilton recently.
The programme is a pilot project done by the Ministry and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The project is part of a Commonwealth initiative called the Connects Programme and will eventually affect the entire region.
“Computers for Communities, as it is being called, primarily seeks to develop and implement a national and sustainable system for collecting, upgrading and repairing used computer equipment for distribution to communities across Trinidad and Tobago,” a release issued by the ministry stated.
Microsoft Corporation has agreed to assist the initiative by providing knowledge and experience regarding the implementation of the first refurbishment centre. Swaratsingh, at the launch, commended Microsoft’s participation in the project.
Considering the Government’s national development drive and “Fastforward”, the national Information and Computer Technology(ICT) strategy, he said all persons are expected to have at least basic computer knowledge and skills and an online presence.
“Our push for national development is an unrelenting one and cannot be accomplished by Government alone. As such, we need to continue to empower the general public to participate as well as encourage public-private sector partnerships to donate, upgrade and maintain the technologies that are vital to our community life and leisure,” he said.
The minister assured that the young and the old are expected to benefit from the initiative as it provides numerous possibilities to tap the growing potential of ICT and improve lives.
“On a wider level,” he added, “Computers for Communities represents an important step in the development of best practice from which many other emerging economies in the Caribbean and beyond will benefit.”