Northern Pacific Islands Headed for Greater Connectivity

December 17, 2014

World Bank approves US$47.5 million for the Palau-Federated States of Micronesia Connectivity Project

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved the second phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program (PRCP) – addressing the need for more widespread access to Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in the Northern Pacific.

The project will support more widely available broadband internet and associated value-added services needed to support social and economic development in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) by reducing the cost and increasing the capacity of international bandwidth.

“This phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program will assist the Federated States of Micronesia in overcoming its challenges of remoteness and dispersed geography,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the World Bank in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. “Increasing access to affordable ICT will allow individuals, businesses, government and nongovernment agencies in the FSM to take advantage of the benefits better connectivity can bring, including improved social and economic opportunities and better service delivery.”

The project consists of a US$47.5 million grant to the FSM, to be co-financed by a planned US$25 million Asian Development Bank loan to the Republic of Palau. PRCP will support the construction of submarine cable systems to connect Palau with the FSM state of Yap and the US territory of Guam; and the FSM states of Chuuk and Pohnpei; as well as the provision of next generation satellite broadband for the FSM state of Kosrae.

In addition to infrastructure investment, the project will provide technical assistance to the FSM to further improve the environment for ICT development, including a strengthened regulatory framework overseen by a new independent regulator – building on pro-competitive legislation enacted in April 2014. The MicroPal Fiber Optic Joint Committee established by the Governments of the FSM and the Republic of Palau will oversee planning and implementation of the project.

The second phase of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program is funded through a US$47.5 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. The first phase of this program was the Tonga-Fiji Connectivity Project, co-financed with the Asian Development Bank and Tonga Communications Corporation. The cable to Tonga became operational in August 2013.

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