Samoan investors sign equity deal to establish locally owned Submarine Cable

CEOs of Samoa Life Assurance, Samoa National Provident Fund and Unit Trust of Samoa sign the investment agreement

BY Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA: WEDNESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2015: Eight local investors have signed an equity subscription agreement with the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC) to establish the first locally owned submarine cable to improve the country’s internet services and lower costs.

The US$49 million project is an innovative private-public-partnership with further financing from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the newly established SSCC.

The project will take 18 months to build and be activated.

“This is a milestone and another first for Samoa,” said Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau, Minister for Communications, Information & Technology (MCIT) at the signing ceremony in Apia.

Witnessed by SSCC legal consultant and a solicitor from the Attorney General’s Office, the investors took turn in signing the agreement.

Investors includes the Government of Samoa, Bluesky Samoa Limited, Computer Services Limited Mobile Limited, Digicel Samoa Limited, Samoa Life Assurance Corporation, Samoa National Provident Fund, Unit Trust of Samoa and the Interim Directors of SSCC (CEO of the Ministry of Finance and the CEO of MCIT).

The agreement allows investors to invest in SSCC under the Samoa Connectivity Project.

Tuisugaletaua said that the new submarine cable is a key infrastructure project that can deliver extraordinary benefits across Samoa’s education, health, business and tourism sectors for decades to come.

He said SSCC is an innovative case of Private-Public-Partnership and it is a Samoa initiative and Samoa owned .

The cable will span 1,300km linking Samoa’s largest islands Upolu and Savaii to the Southern Cross Cable Network in Suva Fiji.

The new cable will not only boost and improve internet connection but will reduce internet costs substantially.

It will host more than 3 terabits of capacity with the option to go to 8 Terabits and will benefit all Samoa with the enhanced connectivity to Savaii island.

SSCC will also provide a platform for economic development, especially when given traditional business are becoming more e-business oriented, said Tuisugaletaua.

Such e-businesses include:
· Enhanced scope for e-health with better NZ and Australian connections.

· Potential to attract more Samoans back from living overseas, to operate remotely from Samoa while holding Australian and NZ jobs. Lawyers and accountants are great examples.

· Improved access to education on line, with the potential for better linkage to USP campuses around the region through the new high capacity cabel (Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu Samoa).

“The new cable can embrace and assist communications for fellow islander’s in American Samoa, and potentially the people of Wallis & Futuna Islands and Vanua Levu, the large northern island of Fiji.

According to Tuisugaletaua, information and communication technology (ICT) is recognised as an increasingly powerful tool, for improving the delivery of basic services and enhancing local development opportunities, as well as participating in the global economy.

The project is expected to improve connectivity will support the country’s businesses and tourism sectors, and enable improved access to information on health, education and job opportunities.

He said the project will also help families stay connected with the more than 100,000 Samoans who live overseas and will provide technical assistance to the office of the Regulator.