What are the unique challenges of extending Internet connectivity to the Pacific Islands, and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS)? And what opportunities lay ahead as these nations bring Internet to all their citizens?
Samoa’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Lepuia’i Rico Tupa’i, sat down in the ITU studio to discuss the challenges and opportunities they are facing in Samoa during an interview at the World Telecommunication and Development Conference (WTDC-17) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
On the challenges, Minister Tupa’i stressed that Pacific Islands share common challenges including high cost to connect to Internet, along with geographic difficulties to reach rural areas.
“The priority for us is the cost. Cost is very high at the moment, and very expensive in terms of connectivity. To connect to Internet, to access information in terms of education, in terms of health, it’s very expensive for us. And the second challenge for us is in terms of isolated areas,” said Minister Tupa’i.
“We would like to bridge the digital divide, in terms of infrastructure but in terms of knowledge as well,” – Afamasaga Lepuia’i Rico Tupa’i.
On the opportunities, he was optimistic about the future of ICT development in the country and he discussed the rapid progress Samoa is making.
He discussed these opportunities and the work being done by the Samoan government to connect all its citizens.
“In terms of Internet, it’s really impacting us. We’re trying to bring in some submarine cables, connectivity in terms of broadband. We are fast moving in terms of mobile broadband… By the end of this year we are having one submarine cable come in, from Fiji. By the end of 2018, we have another one coming via Tahiti. So we expect growth, economically and socially, to be very high, to be increasing rapidly, and a dramatic reduction in cost for us…”
He concluded by highlighting the importance of cooperation with ITU for ICT development in Samoa.
“ITU has really assisted us in a lot of ways… and not just our country, but the whole Pacific and all Pacific Islands. We are all regarded as Small Island Developing States, and we are very much dependent on ITU for a lot of things, especially in capacity building…”
For more insights watch the full interview here: