New project to deliver reforms and plan for major infrastructure investment
WASHINGTON, January 15, 2019 – An innovative public-private partnership (PPP) model, the first of its kind in Tuvalu, will develop the nation’s internet access network, with support from a US$29 million grant approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The grant will seek to improve overall access to more reliable and affordable telecommunications services in Tuvalu.
The Tuvalu Telecommunications and ICT Development Project will support the development of a new information communications and technology (ICT) policy, which will guide reforms to boost connectivity in Tuvalu, including to the country’s outer islands. The project will include reforms of the Tuvalu Telecoms Corporation (TCC) to redevelop the government-run entity as a PPP in cooperation with an experienced international telecommunications operator, selected competitively. The Project will also support investments in, an international optical fiber submarine cable to provide faster, lower-cost internet bandwidth.
“Delivering better telecommunications services is essential to the development of Tuvalu. That is why adopting key reforms and developing better ICT infrastructure, with the support of development partners and the private sector, is a priority,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, the Honourable Maatia Toafa. “Guided by our National Strategy for Sustainable Development, we look forward to delivering these improved ICT services as part of our deepening partnership with the World Bank.”
Tuvalu is one of the least connected countries in the world, with high-cost and limited internet services. This lack of quality connectivity has significant negative impacts on Tuvaluan life, including poor communication between households and overseas relatives, high costs of doing business, and challenging provision of services such as health and education. Poor connectivity also constrains business and tourism opportunities and the ability to respond quickly to natural disasters.
“Our extensive experience in supporting improvements to ICT services across the Pacific over the past decade has shown that affordable, reliable connectivity can be genuinely transformative – delivering positive impacts in areas including health, education, private sector development, and disaster response and recovery,” said Michel Kerf, Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “We are proud to be supporting the government of Tuvalu as it pursues key reforms and infrastructure investments to deliver better connectivity for its people.”
The project is part of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, a broader, ongoing, regional program supporting improved Pacific connectivity in Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia (with Palau) and Kiribati.
The US$29 million grant comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries, and will be implemented by the Tuvalu Ministry of Communications and Transport.