Tui Samoa Cable, benefits and what needs to be done now

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

The timing for the Tui Samoa Cable to go live could not have been more interesting. With the promise to lower the cost of internet technology, thus making it more accessible to the people of Samoa, the potential to help speed up development is endless.

That’s of course if such a tool is used and applied appropriately. We know how critical internet technology has become in today’s world. The role it plays in our everyday lives – including times of natural disasters as our country experienced during the weekend with Cyclone Gita – is vital. 

Just imagine how different things would have been and how ill-informed many of our people would have been about the status of Cyclone Gita’s developments if we did not have the internet? 

With the traditional phone lines down, it’s fair to say that the internet and social media became the ultimate form of communication used by our people to stay in touch and inform the world about what was happening here. 

It was fascinating to see. But that’s just one of the positive ways the internet can contribute to everyday living. There are many more ways the internet can be used to advance our people’s prospects. 

Think of educational benefits. Think of students becoming more technological savvy and how that could help their studies. Think of online courses – although it’s already happening – but how time and money will it save our people who live in Savai’i and other rural communities?

Think of the medical benefits? Think of students in Samoa learning from the best anywhere in the world through video conferencing and carrying out life saving operations?

Sad to say, there is also a downside to faster and cheaper internet. And from what we are seeing today, in Samoa and elsewhere in terms of the internet and social media being abused to cause hurt and destroy individuals and families, the availability of faster and cheaper internet is something the authorities will have to keep a very close eye on.

That said; allow us to congratulate the Government and the Samoa Submarine Cable Company for the successful completion of the Tui Samoa Cable project. 

In giving thanks, we cannot forget the role and assistance from the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.), the World Bank Group and of course the government of Australia 

At the official launch on Friday night, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi hailed the development as a key step in the right direction for Samoa.

“Today is a historical occasion for Samoa and the beginning of a new era as the country, for the first time, connects to high-speed internet. Faster, reliable internet at more affordable prices is a real opportunity for Samoa,” he said.

The A.D.B. Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Bambang Susantono, shares the same belief.

“The new submarine cable system is a critical step in Samoa’s international connectivity and will help businesses to expand, create jobs, and facilitate access to remote health and education services,” he said.

The World Bank’s Michel Kerf, Director for Papua New Guinea and Pacific, added that a Cable is a tool to bridge the digital divide “helping people across the country to seize new opportunities across commerce, education, health, and government service delivery.”

The point is echoed by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, who congratulated Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the Government. 

“The Tui-Samoa submarine cable will allow Samoan businesses to access new opportunities in the world market and will see substantial economic and development benefits flow to the Samoan economy,” she said.

Well that’s fantastic, isn’t it? Let’s hope that is the case.

In the meantime, perhaps now is a good time for the Government to roll out some educational programmes on how our people can use the internet appropriately as opposed to abusing and misusing it, which we are already seeing. What do you think? 

Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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