Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi
Prime Minister of Samoa
Keynote Speech at the Official Ceremony for the Tui-Samoa Submarine Cable Launch
It is indeed my pleasure to welcome you all to this historical event, and to celebrate the completion of the Tui Samoa Submarine Cable project. I thank you for making the effort to attend this ceremony especially with the not so nice weather conditions.
I thank Rev. Salesulu for the uplifting message, and in giving thanks to our Heavenly Father and asking for his blessingsas we enjoy and witness this major achievement.
The Strategy for the Development of Samoa (S.D.S.) sets out the Government’s vision to improve the lives of our people, and Tui-Samoa Submarine Cable is one of the key enablers that will help us achieve that goal.
The strategic reasons for developing the Tui-Samoa Cable is to
• bridge the digital divide for the people of Samoa and our neighboring island nations
• promoting economic and social development
• providing Samoa with access to fast, reliable and affordable wholesale broadband internet.
Connectivity is a key driver in realizing the ambitions of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for small island developing states including Samoa as we strive to ensure that we do not leave anyone or any place behind.
The SAMOA Pathway also addresses the importance of having good connectivity to improve ICT developments in Small Island Developing States.
The Samoa Submarine Cable Company, which was established by our Government to implement, manage and operate this project, has been at the fore in developing this regional connectivity project, and regional partnerships such as this project, involving Fiji and Wallis & Futuna Islands, have given a physical presence to our Pacific leaders’ vision for regional cooperation. The success of the Tui-Samoa partnership has provided the Government with the confidence, to facilitate new partnerships amongst other Pacific islands, for new submarine cable projects. The next exciting project is the Manatua Cable, linking Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Niue and possibly Vava’u to Samoa.
The Tui Samoa Cable project’s total cost is 34,405,606 US Dollars, which includes the main supplier Alcatel Submarine Networks, ASN, who offered a very good price of 25,259,606 USDollars, with the rest of the funds spent on civil works in Upolu and Savaii, contractors and project management cost, legal advisory services,construction permits/approvals and I.R.U. capacity costs.
On the 25th of November 2016, we attended the Official Contract Signing Ceremony, and the bringing into force of the supply contract with ASN. On 30 October 2017, 11 months later, we witnessed the next major milestone with the Tui-Samoa cable landing at Moataa and the commencement of the 1,500 KM cable laying to Suva in Fiji with spurs to Tuasivi on Savaii, the islands of Wallis and Futuna, and to Savusavu on Vanua Levu, Fiji. The cable landed on Tuasivi, Savaii on 8 November 2017.
Despite some difficulties encountered at sea during the cable laying operation, the Tui Samoa cable finally landed in Suva just before Christmas 2017.Commissioning tests, network management tests and confidence trial tests were successfully carried out last month, between the Cable Landing Station at Vaivase-tai and the Cable Landing Station in Suva Fiji. Training is ongoing, however the cable system is now completed and is ready for service.
With the launch of Tui Samoa Cable today, our people will experience over the next few months and years, a step-change in capability with much more value for money in terms of greater internet speeds and capacity never before possible on these shores.
This will empower both the public and private sector to utilize the endless potential of the internet without the connection, speed and cost constraints of the past. Furthermore, Samoa’s status as a destination for investment will be greatly enhanced by the prospects of increased and stable connectivity with the wider world.
These are exciting times, and as Prime Minster I am encouraged by the progress in ICT our small country has made in such a short period of time.
From the Samoan Governments point of view, I would like to use the occasion of the Tui-Samoa cable launching to communicate Samoa’s expectations, of how best to make use of our national asset. I said earlier that the Tui-Samoa will provide fast, reliable and affordable wholesale broadband internet.
I have stated previously the Samoan government will leave no Samoans and no village behind and so we must find ways to make affordable broadband internet services available for all our people. Affordability, right now is a barrier to rural Samoans who have access to broadbandinternet, however cannot simply afford to use it. Government has invested over US$25 million in the Tui-Samoa cable, the Samoa Submarine Cable Companytherefore should provide one of the lowest wholesale internet pricing in the region- the Samoan Government and Samoa Submarine have done their part.
Now, I challenge our licensed telecommunications and internet service providers Bluesky, Digicel, CSL, LeSamoa.net, Netvo and any new ISPs to deliver your end of the bargain and ensure all Samoans have access to affordable retail internet as a basic right.
My final point is that of increasing digital literacy.
Whilst providing affordable wholesale internet through the Tui-Samoa is important, extending access must go hand in hand with increasing digital literacy for women and men, girls and boys as well as those Samoans with disabilities.
In short, Government Ministries, the Telecommunications sector, the Private sector and NGOs should align and work together in order to develop user-friendly applications to improve access for key government services for our people.This is critically important in ensuring that access to broadband internet translates into positive development outcomes for Samoa.
On behalf of the Government of Samoa I would like to acknowledge the presence of representatives of our development partners, and I thank:
• Dr BambangSusantono, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank;
• Mr Michel Kerf, Country Director of the World Bank Group ; and
• Her Excellency Susan Langford, the Australian High Commissioner in Samoa,
for their extraordinary support in financing the Samoa Connectivity Project.
I also extend a word of appreciation to:
• SSCC investors namely Bluesky,Digicel, CSL, SNPF, SLAC and UTOS, the directors, and CEO for delivering this project for Samoa;
• Alcatel Submarine Networks, the main supplier, as well as all the contractorsboth local and overseas for all their hard work and commitment to make today a reality;
• A big Faafetai to the Alii and Faipule of Moataa and Vaivase for their huge support on this project;
• A big Faafetai also to Alii and Faipule of Faga, Tuasivi and Fogapoa for their assistance in facilitating the project on the big island;
• Last but not the least, the Minister responsible for Communications and IT and the Ministry staff who coordinated the project from the start. We also remember with thanks the former Ministers of Communications who were involved in the initial negotiations of the cable project.
• And of course the Government of Samoa whose vision and leadership in sponsoring the Tui-Samoa project must be acknowledged, as this new venture will result in a stronger more prosperous Samoa!
I now have the pleasure to declare the Tui Samoa Submarine Cable launched.