Jamaica Gleaner / The Universal Service Fund (USF) has invested more than $6.5 billion in infrastructure, devices, and programmes geared towards the expansion of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector over the past 12 years.

This is according to USF Chairman Robert Lawrence, who said that the investments are a reflection of the commitment of the agency to universal ICT access.

He was speaking at the launch of the USF’s Technology Advancement Programme (TAP) at The Knutsford Court Hotel on December 15.

Lawrence said that along with the installation of public Wi-Fi at select locations in Kingston and St Andrew, Manchester, and St Elizabeth, the USF has also been providing grant funding for special projects geared at boosting the ICT capacity of entities.

These include the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, the Jamaica Library Service, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Technology.

“Through these initiatives, we have helped thousands of individuals, many of them young people, to unlock their hidden potential through technology,” Lawrence said.

Through the USF’s Tech Love programme, the agency also provides technological support to the less fortunate and seeks to build awareness regarding diseases such as breast cancer and HIV.

“We at the USF genuinely care about the progress of our nation, and we are actively planning and playing our part to support this progress. We are committed to positively affecting the lives of all Jamaicans, so that no one gets left behind,” the chairman said.

TAP will engage some 1,000 youngsters over a 12-month period in ICT training and employment.

The initiative, being administered in partnership with the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology and the CMU, is now recruiting participants, who will gain practical experience in the ICT field while receiving training.

The programme, which targets unattached youth; high-school, college and university graduates; and others between 18 and 35 years old, will commence in January 2018.

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