Minister brushes off allegations of conflict of interest


A young Samoan boy filming using a mobile phone

By Rula Su’a Vaai

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 05 FEBRUARY 2018:  The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Lepuiai Rico Tupa’i, has brushed off allegations of conflict of interest within the Samoa Submarine Cable Company – SSCC.

The issue raised with the Minister the establishment and control of internet costs as some of the service providers are also owners of the Tui Samoa cable.

Afamasaga pointed out that SSCC consists of representatives from Digicel, Bluesky, CSL and Government Corporations.

“They are the ones who will discuss internet rates for the general public and private companies.” However the minster added, before the rates are passed on to the users they must be approved by the Regulator.

“The Regulator has the final say, she will be the one who will look at the rates, and if she thinks they’re too expensive, she has the authority to change it, to a suitable rate that she thinks is affordable for everyone.”

Afamasaga said the regulator will issue a standard price for all private companies.

Tui Samoa cable will be launch this week on Friday 9 February, marking the government’s promise of delivering the cable to provide high speed telecommunications with the outside world and locally.

But after the hype of high speed connectivity and cheap internet costs, the minister has pointed out that the service will not be at full capacity at the start.

“I must say that once it’s launched, it is not going to be supersonic in its service, it will be gradual.”

Afamasaga explained that there will technical issues to be addressed in the transitional period before the cable is expected to works on its full capacity.