WASHINGTON D.C., JULY 25 2012 - The World Bank Board today approved the Telecommunications and ICT Development Project to support a Government reform program, intended to facilitate more widely available and affordable access to telecommunications for all people of Kiribati, including in the outer islands.
Improved ICT access would reduce the cost of doing business and help create new economic opportunities, as well as connecting households, including Kiribati’s large migrant worker community. Kiribati is currently one of the least “connected” countries in the world, and telephone and internet costs are high.
The project aims to strengthen the legal, regulatory and institutional environment to encourage new investment, including competition, in telecommunications and ICT. The project will also provide advisory support to Telekom Services Kiribati Limited.
This project is part of a World Bank-supported program to facilitate improved access to ICT and a stronger policy and regulatory framework for ICT all over the Pacific region. Recent World Bank Group support to telecommunications in the Pacific and Papua New Guinea, in cooperation with other development partners and coupled with increased investment by the private sector is reducing the costs of services and has dramatically increased access, with over two million more people in PNG and the Pacific now having mobile phones compared to a decade ago.
“This project will help improve the lives of the Kiribati people. It will bring better network services and cheaper calls - it will have a tremendous impact on development”, said Ferid Belhaj, Country Director of the World Bank in the Pacific Islands.
The Telecommunications and ICT Development Project is co-financed by grants from the World Bank International Development Association (US$1 million), AusAID (US$3.1 million) and the New Zealand Government (US$1 million). The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Communications, Transport and Tourism Development (MCTTD) and the Telecommunications Authority of Kiribati over a five year period.