Samoa : Samoa Submarine Cable Project
The proposed project will improve international broadband connectivity of Samoa. The proposed project focuses on building a submarine cable system (SCS) connecting Samoa to regional and global communications infrastructure.
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- Information and communication technology
|Samoa Submarine Cable Project
|Country / Economy
|Project Type / Modality of Assistance
|Source of Funding / Amount
|Environmentally sustainable growth
Inclusive economic growth
|Drivers of Change
|Gender Equity and Mainstreaming
Private sector development
|Sector / Subsector
Health / Health system development
Information and communication technology / ICT infrastructure
|Some gender elements
|The proposed project will improve international broadband connectivity of Samoa. The proposed project focuses on building a submarine cable system (SCS) connecting Samoa to regional and global communications infrastructure.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Samoa was one of the first Pacific countries to open telecommunications up to competition through the Telecommunications Act 2005. Following market liberalization, total customers for fixed and mobile lines increased from 12,500 in 2002 to 152,800 in 2008. As of end 2014, over 95% of the population was covered by mobile networks, while mobile penetration had reached 89% of network covered population. However, internet access is lagging significantly, due to high access costs relative to income levels. Broadband penetration was estimated at about 1% fixed and 27% mobile. Projected demand, if prices are lowered, is expected to grow from the current level of about 420 megabits per second to 6 gigabits (Gbps) per second by 2021, and to 30 Gbps by 2028.
Internet prices are driven by the high wholesale internet bandwidth costs. Samoa relies on a submarine cable and satellite service for its international internet connectivity. Samoa is connected to the American Samoa Hawaii cable system via the Samoa-American Samoa cable, which has a remaining useful life of 5 years. The current system capacity of 1 Gbps is above Samoa's current bandwidth demand, but is significantly below projected bandwidth demand. The proposed submarine cable system (SCS), with a minimum capacity of 1 terabits per second and a regulated bandwidth price below current price levels, can facilitate broader internet access and meet Samoa's growing demand. The current ICT service providers are interested in investing in the SCS as a long-term solution to their capacity needs. However, given the significant project cost, there is insufficient private sector interest to invest in such a cable. Therefore, the government is supporting the investment to bridge the gap between the economic and financial viability of the project. ADB supported similar projects in Tonga (also jointly financed with the World Bank) and the Solomon Islands.
The Office of the Regulator (OOTR) was established in 2006 to regulate telecommunications, and has functioned as a multi-sector regulator, including electricity services, since 2013. The proposed SCS aims to improve access to international connectivity; hence, the government requires support to strengthen the legal and regulatory environment, and capacity of the OOTR to regulate international connectivity services to protect the long term interests of consumers. Strong and robust regulation is essential to ensure the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC) does not engage in monopoly pricing or other anticompetitive behavior.
The ICT sector is recognized as an enabler of economic growth and development. Reliable and affordable ICT helps create new business opportunities and with it employment. The proposed project will cater to increased demand for high-bandwidth applications by businesses, households and individuals. In 2014, the government launched the Samoa National Broadband Highway, an internet ready fiber/mobile network linking all government offices, schools and hospitals. With affordable international connectivity, the proposed SCS will enhance the domestic network's delivery of improved public services.
The government has already adopted elements of e-education with the support of development partners and ADB also provided support for an online secured transactions registry and an online company registration. The government has now selected the health sector for implementation of an e-strategy to improve service delivery and reduce the reliance on overseas medical care. The Samoa Ministry of Health (MOH) is planning and designing investments to effectively implement its 5-year health information strategy and has undertaken an initial needs appraisal which identified a patient information system as a priority. The project will help the government implement an e-health patient information solution, and explore e/m-health initiatives utilizing improved ICT accessibility domestically through the national broadband highway and internationally through the SCS.
The proposed project is consistent with ADB's Pacific Interim Approach 2015 and Samoa's country operations business plan 20152017. It also aligns with a key outcome of the Strategy for the Development of Samoa 20122016 to facilitate 'universal access to reliable and affordable ICT services.
Universal access to reliable and affordable ICT services (Strategy for the Development of Samoa 2012-2014)
|Description of Outcome
Quality broadband services available at an affordable price and used for enhancing e-health.
|Progress Toward Outcome
|The SCS (Tui Samoa Cable) was officially launched on 9 February 2018. One of the operators, Digicel Samoa, has signed on and gone live and customers are already experiencing improved internet connection and reduced prices (more data for same price). Plans are underway to construct backhaul to allow other smaller operators to be connected as well as key institutions and the Samoa broadband highway. This will enhance connection for e-health once that component is completed.
|Description of Project Outputs
Special purpose vehicle-the SSCC-to operate and manage the SCS established
SCS established and efficiently operated
Legal and regulatory environment improved
Investments in e-health solutions
|Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
1. SSCC is established, the Board of Directors appointed and CEO recruited. SSCC now fully manages the SCS.
2. The Tui Samoa Cable was officially launched in February 2018 and is now operational.
Project is on-track.
|Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
|During construction and installation of the cable, the environmental impacts as expected were site-specific and limited to the cable route, landing sites and landward cable routes. The environmental management plan was updated during marine route survey and detailed design. The government and subsequently SSCC has adequate institutional capacity to manage the environmental risk.
|The cable landing sites and stations are on government land and the cable route to the cable stations follow existing road corridors. No impact on livelihoods or physical displacement was needed.
|The project areas comprise Samoa's mainstream population. The project did not impact any distinct and vulnerable indigenous people.
|Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
|During Project Design
|Consultations were held with relevant stakeholders in particular residents of project areas as well as key organizations like NGOs and private sector particularly on environment and social safeguards. These were well documented and contributed to the IEE and safeguards reports.
|During Project Implementation
|The site for the cable station on Upolu was changed; hence, another round of consultations were held particularly with residents around the new site.
|A consulting firm for Technical Support Team to assist the Health Sector in Managing and Operating the eHealth Project has been engaged in August 2018 to support the implementation of eHealth policy area and strategies.
A consulting firm has been engaged in November 2016 to design, manufacture, test, deliver, install, complete and commission Facilities, viz Samoa Submarine Cable System Extended Configuration.
Activities under the package is nearing completion.
|Responsible ADB Officer
|Responsible ADB Department
|Responsible ADB Division
|PATC, Pacific Department
Ministry of Finance
Samoa Submarine Cable Company Limited
|15 Apr 2015
|15 Apr 2015 to 24 Apr 2015
|07 Sep 2015
|23 Nov 2015
|Last Review Mission
|Last PDS Update
|28 Sep 2018
|20 Nov 2015
|03 Dec 2015
|09 Feb 2016
|30 Jun 2020
|30 Jun 2021
|28 Jan 2020
|Total (Amount in US$ million)
|Cumulative Contract Awards
|17 Jun 2022
|17 Jun 2022
|Status of Covenants
Project Data Sheets (PDS) contain summary information on the project or program. Because the PDS is a work in progress, some information may not be included in its initial version but will be added as it becomes available. Information about proposed projects is tentative and indicative.
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Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards
Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.
|Submarine Cable Project: Involuntary Resettlement Due Diligence Report
|Safeguards Due Diligence Reports
|Submarine Cable Project: Indigenous Peoples Due Diligence Report
|Safeguards Due Diligence Reports
|Submarine Cable Project: Initial Environmental Examination
|Initial Environmental Examination
Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation
|Samoa: Samoa Submarine Cable Project
|Validations of Project Completion Reports
None currently available.
The Access to Information Policy (AIP) establishes the disclosure requirements for documents and information ADB produces or requires to be produced in its operations to facilitate stakeholder participation in ADB's decision-making. For more information, refer to the Safeguard Policy Statement, Operations Manual F1, and Operations Manual L3.
Requests for information may also be directed to the InfoUnit.
|47320-SAM: Samoa Submarine Cable Project
|Samoa Submarine Cable Project: Procurement Plan