Washington D.C., June 19, 2015 – Samoans will soon be connected to cheaper and higher-capacity internet access after the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a grant of US$16 Million for the Samoa Connectivity Project today.
The project is expected to bring economic and social benefits to Samoa with significantly more reliable and affordable internet connectivity. The improved connectivity will support the country’s businesses and tourism sectors, and enable improved access to information on health, education and job opportunities. It will also help families stay connected with the more than 100,000 Samoans who live overseas. In addition, the project will provide technical assistance to the Office of the Regulator in Samoa.
The project will be carried out as a private-public partnership, with financing from the Asian Development Bank, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the newly established Samoa Submarine Cable Company.
The Project forms part of the World Bank’s Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, a series of projects done in partnership with other development agencies to help Pacific Island countries achieve more affordable information and communication technologies and reduce their isolation.
Samoa will soon be connected via a 1,300km cable that will link the country’s largest islands, Upolu and Savai’i, to the Southern Cross Cable Network in Suva, Fiji. Fiji is a well-established submarine cable hub with connections to Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, the United States (Hawaii) and Vanuatu. The cable will also provide opportunities for neighboring countries to connect. Work on the cable is planned to start in 2016.
"This cable is far more than simply an important piece of technology. It is a key infrastructure project that can deliver extraordinary benefits across Samoa’s education, health, business and tourism sectors for decades to come,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands. “This project builds on our experience with similar cable project in the region and we look forward to working with the Government of Samoa and our development partners to bring world-class connectivity to Samoa.”
Samoa is currently connected to the internet via satellite and the older American Samoa-Hawaii Cable System. The growing demand for connectivity means that much higher-capacity and lower-cost solutions are now needed.
“This project is central to the long-term development needs of Samoa,” said the Hon. Tuisugaletauá Ali'imalemanu Sofara Aveau, Samoa’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology. “It will create opportunities for business by connecting us to the global marketplace, it will help to stimulate jobs and innovation, it will help the government to deliver services in more efficient ways, and it will help families to communicate more easily with their loved ones overseas at a fraction of current costs.”
The total cost of the project is US$49.94 million ($126.28 million Samoan Tala), and will be financed by the US$16 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries; US$18.5 million from the Asian Development Bank; US$8.18 million from the Samoa Submarine Cable Company; US$5.76 from the Government of Samoa and US$1.5 million from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Samoa’s cable follows on from an 827-kilometre fiber-optic cable between Tonga and Fiji which was completed in August 2013, in addition to a cable system connecting Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia to Guam, for which construction is scheduled to start in 2016.