Tuesday, October 1, 2013

FSM and Palau reaffirm joint telecommunication improvement quest through submarine cable system

Koror, Republic of Palau (FSM Information Services): September 28, 2013 – The Republic of Palau (RoP) and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) signed a joint communique to proceed with a Palau-FSM Submarine Cable System.

The independent Broadband Task Force established by the two Governments has agreed to proceed with a joint Palau-FSM SCS during a two-day meeting with officials from The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The Communique is a Government to Government (G2G) framework which establishes the basis for moving forward with a joint submarine cable system project which will provide substantial telecommunications capacity for Palau and the Yap State of the Federated States of Micronesia.

The FSM Delegation was led by Mr. Francis Itimai, Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure and comprised of members of the FSM SFOC Broadband Task Force including the Governor of Yap State and Speaker of the Yap State Legislature.  The Palau Delegation was led by Rinehart Silas, the Deputy Chief of Staff for the RoP.

The meeting consisted of joint meetings with representatives from the two countries, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the FSM Telecommunications Corporation, the Palau National Communications, Polyconsuil, the Pacific Regional Regulatory Resource Center, consultants, and the O3B satellite vendor.  There were FSM-Palau G2G meetings that enabled the two countries to discuss their specific and joint interests.

Secretary Francis Itimai, Chair of the FSM Broadband and Telecommunications Task Force, said that “the meeting was important and produced a framework for moving forward with a submarine cable system project which will truly help to substantially improve the telecommunications capacity for the State of Yap.”  He also expressed gratitude to the World Band and ADB saying, “I would like to thank the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for their financial and technical assistance to improve telecommunications in the FSM.”

The World Bank announced at the Micronesian Presidents Summit in July 2013 that approximately $40 million would be made available in grant funding to implement a broadband submarine cable system for the FSM.  Additionally, the World Bank is making available funding for planning and implementation of a reform of the telecommunications sector which would provide for other telecommunication companies to operate in the FSM, put in place a special purpose vehicle to manage off-island telecommunications, and create an independent regulator for this industry.

The project preparation documents will need to be completed in February 2014 so that funding under “IDA-16” with the World Bank can be approved in June 2014.

President Mori has transmitted a Resolution to Congress for the acceptance of the $500,000 World Bank grant along with a bill to address the conditions required by the World Bank. These conditions derived from evidence-based studies showing that a liberalized telecommunications sector results in social and economic benefits for countries.

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