|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The proposed Pacific Regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connectivity Project is to support Solomon Islands in developing a submarine fibre optic cable to provide cheap, high capacity international bandwidth solution. Improved services and lower cost of international connectivity through submarine cable will stimulate competition and increase demand for broadband Internet. In turn, this will lower the cost of retail telecommunications services, especially broadband internet.
Rapid technological changes, volatile business environment, regulatory environment, and the nature of cross-border infrastructure can create commercial and sovereign risks for the cable development. In addition, any environmental and social issues that may arise from the cable development and operation should be thoroughly assessed and management plans should be prepared following ADB's Safeguard Policy Statements and other co-financiers' requirements. The proposed project preparation technical assistance (PPTA) will prepare analyses and inputs required to inform stakeholders' decision, facilitate stakeholder dialogue, and assist stakeholders in key negotiations.
The World Bank has already mobilized consultants (i) to conduct a feasibility study and (ii) to examine the regulatory environment and any necessary regulatory actions for the proposed cable construction and operation. These consultants will review and provide independent advice to a business plan as well as technical and legal documents once those documents are ready. The proposed PPTA will fill the gap in stakeholder capacity by providing more on-site technical assistance while the World Bank consultants provide independent reviews of the outputs from the stakeholders. More specifically, the PPTA will assist the steering committee in (i) facilitating stakeholder dialogue and building their commitments; (ii) developing a detailed business plan; (iii) exploring private sector interest in equity and debt financing; (iv) advising the establishment of cable development and operating company; (v) completing required due diligence activities; and (vi) preparing implementation plans and key documents.
The proposed PPTA will also make some resources available for other potential project preparation activities by the Pacific developing member countries upon receipt of request of the governments, which are interested in ADB's participation either technically, financially or both. The proposed PPTA can support the governments in selected areas (e.g., environmental and social assessments) by extending the consulting services hired under the PPTA. This approach can reduce time and costs of hiring specialized consulting services for the other countries, thus allowing ADB to provide timely assistance.