Economic Development plan revives hope for call center
The private and public member task force charged with compiling economic development guidelines for American Samoa over the next four years has recommended setting up a “team of appropriate parties” to attract investors in call and data centers in American Samoa.
Previous administrations have been unsuccessful in attracting companies to set up call centers in the territory. There were attempts by the Togiola Administration, after the undersea fiber optical cable was launched connecting American Samoa to Hawai’i and the U.S mainland.
One U.S. company showed great interest in setting up a call center here but later pulled out in 2007 when Congress passed federally mandated minimum wage hikes for American Samoa and the wage hikes was cited by the company as the reason for not going through with its plan.
There is now hope for call and data centers for the territory, as the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority forges on with its multimillion federally funded Broadband Linking American Samoa Territory — BLAST — project which is supposed to provide fast Internet.
Under the American Samoa’s Economic Development Implementation Plan (EDIP), the document points out that with local and remote connectivity in place, ASTCA and Other Relevant Private Entities (ORPE) are encouraged to strategize in the creation of employment opportunities in technology and telecom fields, especially with the advent of the establishment of call and data center facilities.
Actions needed to achieve these goals includes the renovation of ASTCA’s Fagatogo building and the establishment of a call center. Additionally, reconfiguring ASTCA’s new Tafuna building to establish a data center for ASG and others that may want to procure this service.
Further, the development of a team of appropriate parties, to identify prospective companies that would be willing to invest locally in establishing call centers in the territory. A team is also recommended to establish and maintain data centers throughout the territory.
Samoa News reported last year that ASTCA’s fiscal year 2015 budget includes funding geared toward the move to set up a call center. To take full advantage of its fiber optic capabilities, ASTCA says it has made plans to build a 100-seat call center creating over 300 jobs for the community. Requiring the expertise to set up the process for a call center, ASTCA has allocated $65,000 under Contractual Services for call center experts.
Under the Equipment budget category, ASTCA is also allocating $285,250 for the Call Center, saying that with the advent of FTTH (Fiber-to-the-Home) project, operators and other employee positions will become obsolete.
“ASTCA proposes funding to build and structure a 100 seat ‘call center’ to serve both its inbound and outbound calls, creating new revenues, retooling its workforce capabilities, and adding-value.” Funds are earmarked for transitional training, hardware and software development to fully implement this project,” ASTCA explains in its budget proposal.
(See Samoa News edition of Aug. 4, 2014 for details)