The World Bank has today announced $US5.95 million loan funding to support the construction of a new submarine cable to connect the existing Southern Cross submarine cable network to Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second most populated island 150 kilometers north of the capital, Suva on the main island of Viti Levu.
The announcement comes just days after Hawaiki was reported saying it was hoping for an extension to Fiji. On 28 November the Fiji Sun newspaper said that Hawaiki’s survey ship had recently been in Suva harbour and it reported Hawaiki CEO, Remi Galasso saying the company was looking for a partner for a link into Fiji, that it had been contacted by several parties and that good progress was being made.
When it announced commencement of cable manufacture in October, Hawaiki said it was “demonstrating its commitment to the connectivity of Pacific Islands,” by adding “added three additional branching units to enable the future connection of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.”
Galasso was also reported taking a swipe at Southern Cross saying: “These cables only last 25 years, so Southern Cross is actually coming near the end, effectively, of its economic life.”
In March Southern Cross CEO, Anthony Briscoe, was reported saying Pacific islands did not need a new subsea cable from New Zealand as it would be cheaper for them to connect to Southern Cross' existing cable in Fiji.
The World Bank funding, plus $US0.41m from the Fiji Government will cover the design, supply and installation of a 95-kilometre submarine fibre-optic cable; construction of the cable landing station in Savusavu; purchase of internet capacity; and technical assistance for the Fiji Commerce Commission, the World Bank said.
It said the project was closely linked to the ongoing Samoa Connectivity Project:the Savusavu cable will connect directly to the planned Tui Samoa cable supported under that project.
Both projects are part of the World Bank’s overarching Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, a series of projects undertaken with development partners to help Pacific Island countries deliver more affordable ICT to households and businesses, reducing their isolation and boosting economic opportunities.