Moving forward with mobile technology

As the world moves forward with new technological developments, it is no secret that small countries like Samoa are struggling to keep up.

Faster internet access, newer phones, better computers and advanced companies are getting better every day. Samoa and many of her Pacific Island brothers and sisters are usually left in the dust of the bigger players.

But the Office of the Regulator has had enough and through their initiative in collaborating with Global Association of Mobile Network Operators (G.S.M.A.) they began a training to move forward in terms of mobile technology.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology’s (M.C.I.T.) Minister, Afamasaga Rico Tupai opened the training.

The training which began yesterday at Tanoa Tusitala, will teach participants from the Government Ministries, Chamber of Commerce, I..T. Society and the Telecommunication Service Providers the necessary skills to help Samoa move forward in the mobile world.

Led by American Course Moderator and G.S.M.A.’s Senior Digital Learning and Content Development Manager, Ronda Zelezny-Green the training will go a long way for Samoa.

“What I’m doing here in Apia this week is working with the government to train them on two topics,” Mrs. Green told the Samoa Observer.

“One is the use of mobiles for socio-economic development and then children’s use of mobile technology.

“What I’m hoping is to be able to share a number of the best practices that we’ve seen in both of these areas so that as the government here in Samoa undertakes some policies and regulatory changes, they can consider some of the views from the private sector to help make some of the best decisions for the people of the country.”

According to Mrs. Green mobile technology can have great benefits for Samoa and it could open up many different opportunities for the country.

“There is such a huge opportunity when it comes to mobile technology,” she said.

“Mobile when compared to the best top computers or laptops are easier for people to learn how to use and once people learn how to use them I think the sky’s the limit. “As the government considers where they can invest some of the few resources that we have looking at the way mobiles can be used in this way is quite good.

“When you have content especially when it’s digitized it will be much easier to update such content compared to let’s say paper based materials.

“Globally we are seeing a move to this direction not only to save money but also to help make sure that many people as possible are reached.

“In that respect I think that mobile even though 25% of people here in Samoa do not have access… there’s still a great opportunity to help them come online and find content in their language and for their culture that they can benefit from.”

But so far, Mrs. Green has been impressed with Samoa’s work on the subject through our regulator.

“What I’ve seen so far…. I am very impressed with the new regulator,” she said. “The regulator seems to know everything that is going on in the industry considering what needs to be done here in country to help bring broadband access to all.

“I was quite excited to hear the Minister this morning say that they are pushing not only to get that undersea broadband connection but also looking at how they can make mobiles accessible to all.

“There is a lot of work needed to be done here in Samoa but the difference is that the government is actually doing it and are willing to do it.

“That’s evident by the fact that the minister was here 9am on the dot; I have been to so many countries where the minister comes an hour to an hour and a half late. “I think the seriousness of which they approach the task at hand which is to help people get access to the internet; that makes Samoa in my experience one of the top countries especially in the Asia and the Pacific region.” But Samoa does have its set of challenges in the mobile world.

“One of the biggest challenges that I have seen so far for Samoa is a lack of content in local languages,” Mrs. Green said. “And also looking at how this new technology (mobiles) can be integrated into your culture because I think what I’ve seen elsewhere in other emerging markets is that there comes a fear of technology because they feel that it will change their way of living.

“How mobiles are integrated in a way that makes sense for Samoan people is a major challenge.”  But with more trainings such as these, our leaders and the office of regulator will lead Samoa towards a better mobile future.

“I am very ecstatic to be here,” Mrs. Green said. “I want to say thank you to the regulator for inviting us here and we are looking forward to building a regional partnership so that we can work with other countries like Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

“These are some of the countries who have already been learning with the G.S.M.A. online and so we really look forward to bringing together a partnership so that the entire South Pacific can benefit from the wonder of mobile.”

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