FRENCH POLYNESIA PRESIDENT FLOSSE REVEALS PLANS TO ATTRACT INFORMATION

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TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS

PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (April 23, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---French Polynesia's President Gaston Flosse revealed ambitious plans Friday to lure IT-related foreign investment into the territory and turn French Polynesia into a regional Information Technology hub.

Flosse made the comments while officially opening the second annual "Net Days," an initiative aimed at increasing awareness among the public of new information and communication technologies.

The first of the "Net Days," held in the French territory's capital of Pape’ete, were launched by Flosse last year.

He is also a fervent promoter of the "Metu@" scheme, which was inaugurated two years ago and will interconnect all of French Polynesia through a fiber optic network.

Metu@ is aimed at breaking down the isolation of the remote islands of French Polynesia, which spread over an area equivalent to that of Europe.

"Our objective is now to attract investors and entrepreneurs in IT-related activities. We also want to boost local companies that are willing to develop this sector, so that one day we can have a new economic force to help our growth," Flosse said.

He added that he recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the French hi-tech community Sophia Antipolis (based in Nice, on the French Riviera) so that they can "bring us advice and their experience from France's first ‘technopole’."

Flosse said he now planned to create the Tahitian equivalent of the French hi-tech operation, which he plans to call "Metua@ Village."

"A specific facility will be made available to offer the best possible environment to companies, including infrastructure, high capacity networks and tax incentives.

"All this will be near the airport, hotels and the university."

It would host about 20 high-tech companies and thus create a mini Silicon Valley.

"Our ambition is to have an influence on the whole Pacific zone, and to be a bridge between Asia and America."

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