The next Miss Samoa’s role is crucial to the government’s strategic plan to promote Samoa as the Hub of information technology.
So says the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai.
He was addressing the contestants during a session in the build up to this weekend’s pageant.
Afamasaga said whoever will be crowned Miss Samoa will be one of the icons to promote Samoa’s I.C.T evolution starting with the Tui-Samoa fiber optic cable to be commissioned in December.
“Miss Samoa represents our identity, our beauty as a peaceful and secure country and our political stability to assure businesses worldwide, that Samoa is safe for their investments. And it needs to be visible to the world,” Afamasaga told the nine contestants.
“I admire your courage to stand up as contestants and I hope that whoever will be successful will join our team.”
As the I.C.T Hub of the Pacific, the Minister continued, it will translate to new business investments associated with new jobs, improved and affordable connectivity for e-medicine and e-education platforms.
“The benefits are endless, “Afamasaga said.
“In a matter of five to six years Samoa should be connected to 4 international fiber optic cables. And government wants to share the economic spin-offs of our success with our Pacific neighbours.
“The mission is by 2021 to 2022, 18 Pacific Island countries will be connected to Samoa through the four cable networks that should be online and commissioned. That will make Samoa the Pacific’s I.C.T Hub.”
And to realise its full potential, Samoa’s elevated status as the I.C.T Center of the region needs to be marketed, noted Afamasaga.
Next month, government is calling a meeting that will take place in Silicon Valley bringing together decision makers from outfits such as Facebook, Google etc.
“The goal is for these world established businesses to bring their services to Samoa via our Data Center established at the Tui-Samoa earth station at Vaivase.”
Currently, Samoa’s Facebook feed is from the United States but depending on the outcome of the Silicon Valley meeting, Facebook may become a local direct feed for users.
The Marketing strategy has also attracted a Leififi College graduate, the founder of Up-Card Company based in the Silicon Valley.
That company’s value on the stock market is US$300 million and Afamasaga says that the owner wants to help Samoa’s ICT push by setting up a local office to market Samoa to the Up-Card affiliates.
As for investment that will create new jobs, the Minister noted that formal interest has been expressed but because negotiations are ongoing, it is premature to release details.
On the local front, there is the Samoa National Broad band Highway.
It’s operational right now and the Minister says that the viral highway exclusively designed for networking between government ministries and stakeholders is being fine-tuned.
“Broadband is a Government priority because communication technology is a powerful tool to improve the delivery of basic services, enhancing development and take part in the global economy,” he said.
“All government agencies in Apia and around the country are connected to the network for easier and quicker exchange of information.
“And once fully operational and connected to the Tui Samoa cable it will resolve human resource issues such as not enough medical practitioners, teachers etc.
“Our local doctors will be up skilled and have live feeds to their overseas counterparts during delicate surgeries and other procedures.
“Live lessons in Apia will be screened all over the country to our schools in the rural areas.
“But at the end of the day, it’s about accessibility and affordability.
“Research concludes that once we have accomplished our mission the cost will drop from $US300 a Meg $US100 a Meg. The current cost is US$1,500 a meg.”