PEOPLE OF 2020: Auomanu Andrew Jr. Toali'i Ah Liki
The last year marked a major milestone for the history of broadcasting in Samoa as the whole nation was able to watch digital television and access new information for the first time.
Leading this mission was none other than Auomanu Andrew Jr. Toali'i Ah Liki, the son of Aopo Fa’amausili Andrew Ah Liki.
Married to Racyne Johnston, Auomanu is currently the General Manager for the Samoa Digital Company Limited (S.D.C.L.) since 2018.
The 29-year-old is the father of one boy, Atlast Ah Liki.
He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Auckland University.
Aside from his work with S.D.C.L. Auomanu is also an analyst for Samoa’s biggest lumber and hardware store, Bluebird.
An engineer by profession, Auomanu also worked for the Ah Liki Construction in Vaitele.
The S.D.C.L. enterprise is funded by Bluebird Lumber and Hardware Co. Ltd and has as its main goal enhancing the digital landscape of Samoa.
Auomanu said the company’s Chairman, Tuiaopo Faamausili Andrew Ah Liki, was uncompromising in his drive to make hard work a cornerstone of its operations.
Auomanu said that the S.D.C.L. was motivated by the need to ensure that Samoa was not left behind by the rest of the world amid a fast-changing digital environment.
The digitisation drive was first proposed by the International Telecommunications Union (I.T.U.) in 2012.
One year later it was listed by the Government as an excellent example of how Samoa was adapting to the digital climate and providing the best for its people.
“The migration from Analogue T.V. to Digital T.V. is only the first step to a myriad of possibilities. It will open new doors to new industries, create new job specialisations and employment, allow for more advanced technologies to be implemented in Samoa, and provide a better standard of living to every citizen,” Auomanu said.
“This being the first step, S.D.C.L. could not pass up the opportunity to pave a new path for our nation; as a local company we are even more invested in making sure this happens.
While this is a dream project for Auomanu, he says it is only a small part of a much larger ambition for the nation.
“That dream is giving something to the people that they deserve,” he said.
“I myself have always pondered [about] the trips that families make overseas to buy things, enjoy services and have fun, and wondered why they could not do that here.
“I thought about how not everyone can get access to such things and some don’t even know what they’re missing [out on]
“If anything the larger dream will be to make Samoa a place where everything you would ever need is right here and more, and one of these many things that people can now enjoy is nation-wide coverage, high-quality free-to-air Digital T.V.”
Auomanu told the Samoa Observer it has been an overwhelming and eye-opening experience to be able to provide the service to the country.
“It has humbled me to know that there were still places in Samoa that never had a TV before because the coverage never made it,” he said.
“We have had an outpouring of gratitude from the masses as we have quickly covered all areas of the nation,” he said.
“Some were even hesitant to install fearing that they would have to pay for watching, only to be overjoyed to know that there are now so many channels available to watch and all for free.
“They have shown us patience, understanding, and constant support during the entire project and I would like to thank them from both myself and the S.D.C.L. team for making our jobs that much easier and that much more fulfilling.”
But the project did not come without challenges and Auomanu said they managed to pull through even with a tight schedule to complete the project by the end of 2020.
“We were faced with many logistical issues that could not be avoided, shipping delays for equipment, land and tower negotiations for the network, as well as the weather which forced us to update our plans on a daily basis,” he said.
“Some of the sites that were built were never there before with little to no access at all.
“New roads had to be made and in some cases the equipment needed to be carried by hand over many kilometers uphill to get to the designated sites.
“A national-scale operation from Vaisala to Lalomanu with 19 sites in total has to be built, installed and configured within the span of a year.
“We still have more to do to fully utilise everything that the platform can do, from digital radio nation-wide, four extra channels still to be used by broadcasters as well as the possibility of a pay-to-view system that can bring a variety of content to our homes both in country and worldwide.
“However, we did what we went there to do and now the Digital TV Platform stands as a testament to the time and effort that the men and women who were involved.”
Auomanu acknowledged the Government of Samoa, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi; the Ministry of Commerce and Information Technology, the former Regulator Lefao Unutoa Auelua, and to the Office of the Regulator for initiating the project.
Lefao is currently working for the S.D.C.L.
Auomanu also said Andrew King was instrumental in the design, consultation, and implementation of the digital platform, alongside John Mauli, who managed several aspects of the project near to their completion.
He also thanked providers for helping to source and install the necessary equipment, such as Techtel Pty. Ltd; Intelligent Digital Services; and Vodafone and Digicel for allowing access to their towers so the new service could reach across villages.
Auomanu said building new towers in some of the most inaccessible areas of Samoa was no easy task. And its successful completion owes to the landowners themselves and Telbac Engineering and G.C.E. Solutions.
“Finally, I would like to thank my family, my wife, and son, the S.D.C.L. board consisting of my siblings and my parents,” Auomanu said.
“I would like to especially thank my father, Tuiaopo Faamausili Andrew Ah Liki who has been one of the cornerstones of my development in my career.
“He has been the driving force in many of my endeavours and the experience and knowledge I’ve gained over my years has been largely from this man. I owe a lot of my success to him and I hope I can learn more as I carry on.”