NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA – The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank have launched a $34 million project which will allow Tonga to gain high-speed internet access by financing the development of a submarine cable system.

The Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Tu’ivakano delivered the keynote speech at the launch. Siosaia Faletau, focal person for ADB and the World Bank in Tonga, made an address, and Robert Bolouri, International Managing Director of Tonga Cable Limited (TCL), also spoke.

The project is being co-financed by ADB, the World Bank Group, and TCL.

The underwater fiber optic cable will connect Tonga to the Southern Cross Cable, the main trans-Pacific link between Australia and the United States. The establishment and operation of the 827-km submarine cable system, which will run from Tonga to the Republic of Fiji, will provide Tonga’s population of 100,000 with affordable, accessible, information and communication technology services.

The project is expected to bring significant economic and social benefits once the cable is in place by mid-2013. In addition to greater connectivity, it will help businesses to expand and create more jobs, and make it easier for Tongans living abroad to remit money home.

ADB and the World Bank are already supporting Tonga in the following areas:  broadband cable; improved transport links: increased renewable energy production; climate change adaptation, telecommunications reform; urban infrastructure; and government reform.

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