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Leave no Samoan behind, urges PM Tuilaepa

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi [SN file photo]
Source: MPMC

At the reception to acknowledge the arrival of the Tui-Samoa Cable to the country, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi served notice to the ICT service providers in the country.

He challenged the ICT service providers to prioritize affordable retail broadband internet for the whole of Samoa.

The Prime Minister said, “Broadband Internet is a basic right for all Samoans.

“I have stated previously the Samoan government will leave no Samoans and no village behind and so we must find ways to make affordable broadband internet services available for all our people.”

The Prime Minister noted that affordability is a barrier to rural Samoans who have access to broadband internet, but cannot afford to use it.

 To that end, Tuilaepa reminded the ICT sector that Government has invested US$25 million in the Tui-Samoa cable.

“The Samoa Submarine will provide one of the lowest wholesale internet pricing in the region- the Samoa Government and Samoa Submarine has done their part,” continued the Prime Minister.

“Now, I challenge our licensed telecommunication service providers Bluesky, CSL, Digicel, Le, Netvo and any new ISP to deliver your end of the bargain and ensure all Samoans have access to affordable retail internet as a basic right.”

In American Samoa, the system to make broadband internet services available to all villages, including those on the islands of Manu’a is called the BLAST project and was completed in September 2016. The program was funded by the US Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Community Connect Grant. It is suppose to allow the American Samoa Tele Communications Authority to offer affordable connectivity to all residents of American Samoa.

However, ASTCA has said its problem with the slow internet is directly related to not enough bandwidth, which is why it has signed an agreement with Tui Cable, as well as Hawaiiki Cable.

As previously noted, ASTCA’s Financial Statements and Required Supplemental Information for the Years Ended September 30, 2016 and 2015 report notes that the authority has “substantial losses” from it operations in these two years, and has a “negative working capital, and negative cash flows from operations, which raise substantial doubt about its ability as an on going concern at April 26, 2017.”

ASTCA has applied for a $30Million loan from the US federal government, while it currently pays down two loans it made with the American Samoa Government Employees' Retirement Fund, $4.2 million and $10million respectively.