A-G: Re­gional Govt, tele­cos re­spon­si­ble to at­tract new tech

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - EDITED BY: RACHNA LAL. RACHNA LAL and KATHRIN KR­ISHNA

The lack of economies of scale in the Pa­cific means re­gional gov­ern­ments and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions providers have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to at­tract new tech­nol­ogy in the re­gion. This was em­pha­sised by the At­tor­neyGen­eral and Min­is­ter for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, yes­ter­day. He was speak­ing dur­ing the Pa­cific Is­lands Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions As­so­ci­a­tion Next Gen­er­a­tion Net­works (NGN) Fo­rum at the Grand Pa­cific Ho­tel in Suva. Com­par­a­tively, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said mo­bile phone con­nec­tiv­ity in In­dia is 10 mil­lion a month whereas the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of the Pa­cific is 10 mil­lion. He said this was the dis­par­ity which ex­ists and thus the need to at­tract new tech­nol­ogy.

“That is very crit­i­cal for us oth­er­wise we will get be­hind – so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally,” he said. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pointed that be­ing left be­hind in terms of tech­nol­ogy would then also af­fect our abil­ity to at­tract in­vestors.

“So whilst tech­nol­ogy is avail­able, we also need to be able to direct the ser­vice providers to the right space,” he said. “What we need to do is to bring the ser­vice providers into a com­mon space.” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said one of the things Fiji is look­ing at is in­fra­struc­ture shar­ing. He said at the mo­ment, tele­vi­sion and ra­dio com­pa­nies, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions providers all have their own sep­a­rate tow­ers which is quite ex­pen­sive. “For ev­ery com­pany to put up a tower on ev­ery hill be­comes very ex­pen­sive,” he said. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this is where shared in­fra­struc­ture would be ben­e­fi­cial how­ever, govern­ment needs to put some reg­u­la­tions around that. “But even be­fore the reg­u­la­tions – if we are able to form an agree­ment, then you will be able to get that con­nec­tiv­ity and very fast,” he said. “There­fore your fo­cus would be more on ser­vice pro­vi­sion side rather than on cap­i­tal and await­ing re­turn.”

The right frame­work

At the same time, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of pro­vid­ing clear, trans­par­ent and en­abling frame­work where there is ab­sence of cor­rup­tion. He said it was also im­por­tant to un­der­stand the ser­vice providers some­times cherry pick and to en­sure as Govern­ment, that cherry pick­ing does not take place. “Be­cause we will as a re­sult marginalise fur­ther those peo­ple who do not have ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy,” he said.

“So from be­ing the great dig­i­tal equaliser we can in fact be­come the great dig­i­tal di­vider.” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum ex­plained it was im­por­tant for Govern­ment to en­sure that those peo­ple in the ru­ral and mar­itime ar­eas we get the ser­vice pro­vided to other ar­eas too. “We have seen now that Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion is talk­ing about giv­ing tablets and var­i­ous other elec­tronic de­vices to school chil­dren,” he said. “Those elec­tric de­vices will mean noth­ing if we have schools in ru­ral ar­eas or re­motes part of Fiji which don’t ac­tu­ally have the net­work. “Govern­ment’s role is to en­sure that we try and bridge that gap as quickly as pos­si­ble. “There is a lot of tech­nol­ogy which is now be­ing brought to the Pa­cific Re­gion that has not been brought to the Pa­cific prior to this. “The Pa­cific Re­gion is in­deed one of the last fron­tiers as far as ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy is con­cerned.

“The re­al­ity is that it is okay to say you have ac­cess to in­ter­net ac­cess but at what cost, at what speed is it avail­able at is crit­i­cal.” The three-day fo­rum will end to­mor­row.

The Pa­cific Re­gion is in­deed one of the last fron­tiers as far as ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy is con­cerned and there is a lot of tech­nol­ogy which is now be­ing brought to the Pa­cific Re­gion that has not been brought to the Pa­cific prior to this Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Min­is­ter for Econ­omy, Civil Ser­vice, Pub­lic En­ter­prise and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

Photo: VIL­IMONI VA­GANALAU.

At­tor­ney- Gen­eral and Min­is­ter for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (sit­ting 8th from left) with the par­tic­i­pants of the Pa­cific Is­lands Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions As­so­ci­a­tion Next Gen­er­a­tion Net­works (NGN) Fo­rum at Grand Pa­cific Ho­tel in Suva yes­ter­day.

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