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Mar 2, 2023

San Estevan Benefits from First Digital Connect Center

In tonight’s episode of Belize on Reel, News Five travels to San Estevan, Orange Walk District where the inauguration of Digital Connect Center was held.  Here’s News Five’s Isani Cayetano with that story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Many may not know or remember, but San Estevan was the first town in Orange Walk District.  Before Sugar City became the municipality it is today, this small community, just six miles away from Orange Walk Town, was once teeming with agricultural activity.  In fact, it still is.  The village, surrounded by thousand of acres of lush cane fields, is the number one producer of sugarcane in the north.  While agriculture is its mainstay, San Estevan’s location in the northeast of the district also makes it a gateway to other villages further east.


Prime Minister John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“San Estevan is a very progressive village, you have some of the best contractors  in the country, building contractors from San Estevan.  You have some of the biggest cane farmers and people in agriculture here in San Estevan, so it is set appropriately.  And also, you have villages like Progresso, Sarteneja and Chunox, all of them pass through San Estevan.”


Because of its ideal setting, the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service, Beltraide, has chosen San Estevan to establish the first of several Digital Connect Centers that will be created across the country.  These are spaces where citizens and entrepreneurs in rural communities can access business development information, as well as connect with various government agencies.


Leroy Almendarez

Dr. Leroy Almendarez, Executive Director, Beltraide

“What it’s going to do is connect those who might have been left out and being able to communicate with others because of the challenges, not having access to a center such as this.  These four computers that you see here, you can access the Virtual Knowledge Center which is a center where business can interact with each other, but also access the library.  You can access so much information, and my understanding is that the library has a lot of traffic and with that kind of traffic, it simply means that once students hear about this, they can come in, do their research.  Members of the community can come in and interact as well and learn more about the use of these equipment that’s presently here.  So it’s really a great initiative.”


The project falls under the Building Resilient MSMEs, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, a collaborative effort with the E-Governance and Digitalization Unit and the United Nations Development Programme.


Ian King

Ian King, Deputy Resident Representative, U.N.D.P.

“Coming out of COVID, I think one of the things we all appreciated was, you know, the haves and the have-nots, and one of those was the digital divide.  Everyone struggled more in terms of their access to information and resources, of course that being the internet and the ability to utilize that, both from the point of view of education, but also from businesses and we saw some businesses pivot very quickly to utilizing these tools.”


With a population of a little over one thousand, five hundred residents during the last census, San Estevan has since experienced a boom in the total number of people who inhabit the village.  The introduction of the Digital Connect Center will help students to keep up with technology and other resources that are being made available through this facility.


Rosaura Chan

Rosaura Chan, Chairwoman, San Estevan Village

“This is, honestly, a dream come true because we have always wanted a library that is well-equipped, that has internet, computers, A/C, everything comfortable for the kids and it came to reality and it’s something that is really good for our village because our village is growing very fast.”


Isani Cayetano

“Do you anticipate that other communities in the surrounding area would be able to access this facility for the purpose of business connections?”


Rosaura Chan

“Definitely.  As a matter of fact, we have people in the village that are related to people from Progresso, Sarteneja, Chunox.  So they can always come and use the facilities, it’s open to the wider public, I mean it is for the benefit of our younger generation.”


Isani Cayetano for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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