WASHINGTON D.C., November 30, 2016 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$5.95 million in funding for the Fiji Connectivity Project, which aims to reduce the cost and increase the availability of internet services in the Pacific Island nation.
The project will support the construction of a new broadband cable, which will link the existing Southern Cross Submarine Cable Network to Vanua Levu Island 150 kilometers north of Suva. It will help stimulate local business through improved connectivity, boost e-commerce and reduce transaction costs. The project will also enable the development of other information communication technology (ICT)-based services in Fiji and throughout the Pacific.
“Providing affordable and resilient connectivity is essential to ensuring all Fijians, regardless of their age, their gender or where they live – can take full advantage of economic opportunities and improve service delivery across health, education and other services,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “In addition to delivering faster and more reliable internet, the cable infrastructure will be significantly more resilient to cyclones, helping keep essential communication links open during times of crisis.”
The project includes the design, supply and installation of a 95-kilometer submarine fiber-optic cable; construction of the cable landing station in Savusavu; purchase of internet capacity; and technical assistance for the Fiji Commerce Commission.
The project is closely linked to the ongoing Samoa Connectivity Project, with the Savusavu cable connecting directly to the planned Tui Samoa cable supported under that project. The Fiji Connectivity Project is part of the World Bank’s overarching Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, a series of projects undertaken in partnership with development partners to help Pacific Island countries deliver more affordable ICT to households and businesses, reducing their isolation and boosting economic opportunities.
“Access to affordable internet for all Fijians is a major part of the Fijian Government’s vision to ensure that geographic location in no barrier to opportunity for our people,” said Attorney-General and Minister for Communications Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “Reliable internet access in our Northern Division will translate directly into more effective public services and reduced transaction costs for our businesses, and will help bring the quality of life for Fijians in the North in line with that of those living on our main island, Viti Levu. This project will also drive economic growth in our northern region by creating employment and investment opportunities within our ICT sector on Vanua Levu”.
Fiji is a well-established submarine cable hub with connections to Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, the United States (Hawaii) and Vanuatu, with a growing technical skills base and talent pool, and an emerging ICT services sector with significant potential to provide more jobs to the country – as outlined in the World Bank’s ICT for Jobs in the Pacific report, which was released in 2015.
The Fiji Connectivity Project is funded through US$0.41 million from the Fijian government, and a US$5.95 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the World Bank’s fund for middle-income and credit-worthy, lower-income countries.
For more information, please visit: www.worldbank.org/pi