The future is exciting for the Information Communication Technology (I.C.T.) in Samoa.
That’s the belief of the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai, who provided an update about the state of the Tui Samoa Cable as well as other key I.C.T. related developments during a press conference yesterday.
He also spoke about the Government’s objective to capitalize on Samoa’s central position in the Pacific and the agreements they have entered into in a bid to attract more business from overseas.
“We are launching to Samoa next week on Friday,” he said.
“The launch is to officiate that the work of the government is complete in building the submarine cable and bringing it on to land and its ready for service to the private sector and the communication operators like internet operators,” he said
The Minister acknowledged that there would be some teething problems during the transition but that's to be expected.
“We won’t be 100 percent in realizing the supersonic powers of this cable immediately after its officiated on the 9th according to the operators,” he said.
“But this is the nature of the submarine work because immediately after, there’s been talk that the cable is coming but like I said it’s the nature of the work – nobody believes anything until it actually reaches land.”
Part of the delays in the initial stages of operation has to do with communication operators finishing out their contracts with satellite service before they begin switching to the cable.
“These operators they have contracts with satellite companies,” he said.
“Our communication at the moment is based on the satellite service so they are trying to finish off satellite services before they can fully load their services onto the cable.
“The services will slowly be going onto the cable so you may still find that when you wake up on the 10th that your internet is still slow but eventually it will improve.
“This is the work of the private sector and the telecommunication operators to slowly get their service onto the cable. It’s an opportunity also for them once we give the cable out to them to start realizing what needs to be upgraded within their systems. It’s only then they can find out what needs to be and what can be done to improve services.”
The Minister also announced that this week, they would officially put a tender for a supplier to build the Manatua cable.
“The Manatua Cable is an initiative of the government of Tahiti, government of the Cook islands, Niue and we are talking with Tonga also to connect and Samoa government as well. There’s help from the government of New Zealand and Asia Development bank. Our target is for June 2019 to reach our shores before the South Pacific games.”
According to the Minister, last week the Samoan government signed an official contract between the government of Samoa through the Samoa Submarine cable company and also a company from the United States called TEsub.com. The agreement’s purpose is to maintain cables around the Pacific
“Our part in the contract is to build a warehouse on the wharf in Matautu. The warehouse is about 4000 square metres in Matautu.
“This warehouse will house all the submarine cable spare parts for not only the Pacific region but for the whole of the Oceania region. Having this warehouse on the wharf will also attract the maintenance vessel, currently it based in New Caledonia.
He outlined the financial benefits that Samoa will gain.
“The main reasons why the government wants the company here is of course the benefits to the economy. We are estimating to have a financial injection per annum of about 3 million U.S dollars into our economy and our services.
“Not only will this come from rental fees on the wharf but also rental fees of the docking of the vessel. Also the services in terms of hotels and restaurants as well as the use of our petrol and fossil fuel.
“There will be opportunities for employment particularly for crew members needed to work on the vessel which the government hopes to ensure that a fully Samoan crew will be operating in the next five years.”
The Minister also revealed that the government will be working with the National University of Samoa to include the skills of cable maintenance, cable manufacturing and skills in the syllabus of the marine school at the university.
He outlined the Government’s vision in making the most out of Samoa’s location in the Pacific.
“It’s in the nature of communications that when you have a first gig then you need to have a second gig,” he said.
Pointing to the map of the Pacific behind him, the Minister said: “Samoa is right in the center of the Pacific region so the objective of government is to take advantage of this central location, not only in terms of communication, submarine cables and connectivity but also in terms of on air traffic.
“In terms of vessels carrying containers we are in a very central position and we are now moving towards taking advantage of where we are.
“We can say that in the next 5-10 years we are looking for a completely different Samoa than at the moment.”