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Signing Ceremony for Tonga Cable Project at PIF Meeting

Signing Ceremony for Tonga Cable Project at Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting

Auckland, New Zealand, 9 September 2011 – The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank Group participated in a signing ceremony today for a $34 million grant project which will enable the people of Tonga to gain high-speed internet access by financing the development of a submarine cable system.

ADB and the World Bank signed their separate grant agreements with the Government of Tonga. The Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Tu’ivakano, the Vice-President of the World Bank Group, Jim Adams, and the Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department, Robert Wihtol were signatories in the ceremony.

The project is being co-financed by the World Bank Group, ADB, and Tonga Cable Limited.

The underwater fiber optic cable will connect Tonga up to the Southern Cross Cable, the main trans-Pacific link between Australia and the United States. The establishment and operation of the 827 km submarine cable system which will run from Tonga to the Republic of Fiji will provide Tonga’s population of 100,000 with affordable, accessible, information and communication technology services.

As well as being a key step in boosting Tonga’s international connectivity, the project is expected to bring significant economic and social benefits to the people of Tonga once the cable is in place by mid-2013. The cable is expected to improve information and communications technology services, especially high-speed internet which will enable Tonga to improve its education, health and government services. The project will also encourage Pacific Island countries to develop a market in digital products and services.

ENDS

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