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Submarine cable links deal sealed

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Finance minister Rick Hou signing the financing agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
TWO agreements were signed yesterday which will allow a submarine communication cable reach our shores.

Minister for Finance and Treasury Rick Hou signed a financing agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a project agreement with Solomons Oceanic Cable Company (SOC), for the project to proceed.

The Solomon Islands Broadband for Development Project was to build a submarine cable system that will connect the Solomon Islands to an existing international submarine cable network that runs between Guam and Sydney, Australia.

Mr Hou described the signing marked the start of a milestone project that will boost economic activities in the Solomon Islands.

He said the project is vital and that the Government is throwing its full support because of the substantial benefits it will fetch.

“Telecommunication costs should substantially reduce and internet connections improved.”

Mr Hou said the cable will be pulled across to two provinces for a start.

“We plan to initially connect the cable with Malaita and Western Provinces.

“As such, it is likely 75 percent of the population especially those in the rural areas will be covered in terms of the benefits.”

Solomon Telekom and the National Provident Fund had already injected $10 million in support of the project.

Regional director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Australia Andrea Iffland who signed on behalf of ADB, said the Solomon Islands stand to benefit a lot from the project.

“Cost of doing business will reduce and economic and social activities boosted,” Mrs Iffland said.

She said people in remote areas will greatly benefit from social service spin off from the undertaking.

“Communication will be very reliable and improved, education and more will benefit people.”

A representative from SOC said once the financing agreement completes, the implementation process will start.

“We are looking at implementing the project within 6 to 12 months.

“This means the project should be in operation by December 2013 if the financing aspect is on time.”

The project will be financed by the Asian Development Fund loan and grant funds, commercial financing from ADB and equity brought in by SOC.

By Ednal R. Palmer