Fijians Being ‘Empowered’ By Broadband, PM Tells UN Meeting

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Fijians Being ‘Empowered’ By Broadband, PM Tells UN Meeting Bainimarama: High speed internet access is ‘extraordinary revolution’

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 23, 2013) – Fijians are getting empowered through broadband access, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told a United Nations gathering today.

In his address to the High Level Forum on South-South Cooperation for Sustainable Development - Investing in Broadband, the Prime Minister said "an extraordinary revolution" was taking place as more and more parts of the country gain access to affordable broadband.

"Whatever the marvels of the technology involved, it is the positive effect on the lives of our people that makes Fiji an illuminating case study," the Prime Minister said.

Bainimarama urged nations embarking on a broadband development programme to make broadband affordable, encourage competition, develop a partnership between Government and the private sector, institute a regulatory framework that is fair, efficient and transparent, and have zero tolerance for corruption especially when it comes to spectrum allocation.

"The competition we’ve created has driven down the cost of connectivity.

And we’ve worked hard to remove systemic corruption and inefficiency in telecommunications, just as we have in the country as a whole," he said.

The Prime Minister asserted that Fiji expects broadband access to be a social equalizer, helping to eliminate the disparities between rural and urban residents, helping to lift the poor, and opening connections among people.

"For a small island developing state like our own, strung out over vast distances of ocean, high speed cable access was neither affordable nor practical, so mobile broadband was the only viable and immediate option," he said.

He said setting up telecentres helped reach remote communities.

About 40,000 people now access the 15 telecentres.

"I get a huge thrill from opening these facilities because of the delighted looks on the faces of ordinary Fijians as a door is suddenly opened to them," he said.

"It is the door to a world of opportunity." "Our goal is 100 per cent coverage through a universal service access initiative that will offer subsidies to telecommunications companies to put infrastructure in very remote areas." "The hope is to reach every Fijian, because we all know the risk of not doing so.

If we do not spread the advantages of the digital age to all, then technology will actually create even greater disparities."

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