Digicel Buys 16.6% Of Government Shares In Tonga Cable

Investment proceeds to be used to extend fiber optic cable to Vava‘u and Ha‘apai

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 26, 2017) – Digicel Tonga Ltd has bought 16.6% of Tonga Government’s shares in Tonga Cable Ltd, for USD$4.19 million (equivalent to $9.1 million pa’anga), that will be used to assist in financing the extension of the fibre optic cable network to Vava’u and Ha’apai.

Digicel Pacific’s Christian Fruen handed over the cheque to Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni in Samoa, fed live on skype to Nuku’alofa watched by Digicel Tonga's CEO Ben Kealy, Minister for Finance and National Planning Hon Tevita Lavemaau and Hon Poasi Tei, Minister for Public Enterprises.

On February 3, the Government of Tonga and Digicel entered into a Share Purchase Agreement, which was finalised with the signing and presentation of the Share Certificate by the two Ministers as well as the payment presentation made today, 26 July.

Hon Tevita Lavemaau said with this payment, Government would be able to co-finance alongside the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, the extension of the fibre optic cable to Vava’u and Ha’apai for improved telecommunications services.

The cable system is expected to be commissioned early 2018, he said.

Paula Ma’u CEO for MEIDECC said after the Tonga Cable Project supported by ADB and World Bank, there was money left over of around $4 million for this work.

The money from Digicel today will be used together with the left over from the cable project to complete the fibre optic cable connectivity to these two outer islands, preventing Tonga Cable from taking up any loan, he said.

He said the construction of a landing station in Vava'u has been completed with Ha’apai to be carried out.

Faster connectivity

Mr Kealy said Digicel is committed to deliver on their vision of being a total communications and entertainment provider across the region and this investment is a significant step for their customers.

He said customers would see faster internet connectivity and they are planning to launch the 4G network later this year in Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai.

The amount of our users have increased significantly over the last 12-months. By investing in our infrastructure we would ensure faster connectively because we are going to improve the transmissions between our handsets to the tower and vice versa, he said.

The three shareholders in Tonga Cable now, are the Government of Tonga holding majority, while Tonga Communication Corporation (TCC) holds 16.6% the same number of shares as Digicel Tonga.

Also attending was CEO for the Ministry of Public Enterprises Sione 'Akau'ola and Digicel staff.

The Deputy PM is in Samoa for a Commonwealth Broadband Forum for the Pacific.

It was not clear whether or not any Tonga Cable Ltd. management or staff attended the hand over in Samoa or local event.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2017 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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