Report highlights ICT impact in Pacific
A new report has highlighted improved access to infrastructure and services across the Pacific and looked at the potential for greater Information Communications Technology development.
A new report has highlighted the improved access to infrastructure and services across the Pacific and looked at the potential for greater Information Communications Technology development.
The Director of the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility Sanjivi Ransingham says the report will help Pacific governments and the private sector to identify opportunities for investment.
Mr Ransingham told Koro Vaka'uta there has been huge improvements over the past 10 years.
SANJIVI RANSINGHAM: It shows how mobile access is almost universal now in Pacific island countries. It was at about 49% in 2007 and at 93% in 2014. A large part of it has been driven by the submarine cable but there is still a lot to be done in terms of the services. Now in terms of the sectors themselves. If you look at agriculture and fishing and forestry there is a lot that can be done. SMS can be used for market prices, disease outbreak, agriculture and fishing specific data, access to specific markets. In tourism of course tourists want to have internet services and it's an important requirement. As tourism is an important contributor to most Pacific island economies it is really important to have that access. It is also a way in which hotels are booked, tickets are issued and so on as well as using ICT services for purchases. e-Government is of course very important for these countries, especially because of the remote access and as the connectivity gets better and people have access to ICT services, making government services available, it becomes very useful. Some countries are doing it, Solomon Islands have started and are doing it very well, in other countries there is plenty of room for more work. In financial services, mobile technology is now a very important player in mobile banking and this makes a difference for societies that are financially excluded. The Pacific is one of the least banked areas on the planet. Nearly 80% of people with no access to financial services so ICT access will certainly help with that. So in education learning, education content is something that can be done. The University of the South Pacific has done quite a pioneering job in using ICT in how it is delivering its services and connecting its various campuses but in schools there is still a lot to be done.
KORO VAKA'UTA: As more gets put into this sector, from a consumer perspective, you can look at costs getting cheaper, because I understand this report also the cost of mobile calls had declined by a third.
SR: We need to have more competition. In most of the countries, as the report points out, there is one dominant operator and some smaller ones and having more compeition will definitely help that and this comes back to regulation.
KV: What do you hope is ultimately done with this report?
SR: PRIF partners wanted to know how is it that they could leverage their support for ICT. The interventions that have been recommended by this report are to do data collection and monitoring of the sector. Leveraging international connectivity. Fostering relearning and educational content creation. Holding ICT-enabled agricultural services. Stimulating e-Health, health services that can be provided through the internet and then e-Government, boosting tourism and finally and most importantly making ICT access universal.
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