DOC moving forward with 2 telecom projects — One expected to open later this year
Pago Pago, AMAERICAN SAMOA — With American Samoa’s improved broadband infrastructure, through the Hawaiki fiber cable, the Commerce Department (DOC) is moving forward with two telecom projects — one of them set to open later this year — with the goal of diversifying the local economic base.
The two projects are the Territorial Broadband Strategy (TBS) and the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) business incubator, said DOC director Keniseli Lafaele, whose department’s 2nd quarter performance report for FY 2019 lists the two “telecommunications” projects among those that are part of DOC’s Industry Development initiatives.
As previously reported by Samoa News, the ASG has touted Hawaiki as a way to diversity the local economy, by creating new industries utilizing the improved broadband, as American Samoa is faced with the “harsh reality” that, “should our last remaining tuna cannery close, the territory will likely experience a catastrophic economic disaster and fall into a deep recession from which we may never recover.”
“TBS will guide local efforts to leverage broadband resources, install processes to maintain infrastructure, plan for future expansion or upgrades as needed, and address other policy needs,” according to the performance report.
Responding to Samoa News questions, Lafaele said last Friday that the TBS project has received a $100,000 grant award from the US Economic Development Administration. DOC is now in the process of advertising the request for proposal (RFP).
“The goal is to create a detailed, step by step strategy that will leverage the ASG investment into Hawaiki to drive diversification of our economic base,” he explained. “For TBS, we will involve a broad group of public and private stakeholders.”
In the performance report, DOC said it “continued dialogue” with the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority (ASTCA) “to explore projects… we can collaborate on support development” for BPO/Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industries.
DOC has initiated the development of the BPO Business Incubator Project in partnership with ASTCA, and the parties are working on finalizing details.
Lafaele confirmed to Samoa News last Friday that the BPO is “being developed and we plan to open in October 2019.”
“The incubator will house a 25-seat BPO operation providing up to 40 new jobs in the next year,” he said, adding that “a local business”, as well as ASTCA and DOC “are key partners in this endeavor.”
BPO/ICT and TBS are also cited as economic development initiatives in American Samoa’s draft Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy 2018-2022 Report prepared by DOC and released early this year. (See Samoa News Apr. 22 edition for more information.)