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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has joined Solomon Islands caretaker Prime Minister Rick Hou in a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the commencement of the next phase of Coral Sea Cable System construction in Honiara, Tuesday.
The ground-breaking ceremony took place at Coral Sea Cable System construction site at Lengakiki in Honiara.
Hou in his speech said his government on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands thanked the Australian government for helping Solomon Islands realise its dream to be connected to a submarine cable network.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Payne affirmed that Australia will invest up to AUD$200 million (US$144 million) in the Coral Sea Cable System and Solomon Islands Domestic Network.
“This is a tangible symbol of our ongoing commitment to the Solomon Islands and the Pacific,” she added.
Both leaders further highlighted that this ‘game-changing’ infrastructure will be transformative for Solomon Islands nation as a whole.
It is understood that since the signing of a AUD$137 million (US$99 million) contract with Vocus in June 2018, construction of the Coral Sea Cable System and Solomon Islands Domestic Network has progressed well.
The landing station at Lengakiki will soon host a 4, 700-kilometre-long fibre optic submarine cable linking up Sydney, Port Moresby and Honiara.
Additional cable landing stations will be built for the Solomon Islands Domestic Network, which will link up the rest of the country connecting Honiara with provincial hubs in Auki, Noro and Taro.
The Coral Sea Cable will supply a capacity approximately 30,000 times the current demand.
Hou confidently stated that this will be a big boost for the country’s economic growth and country’s development journey into the future.
“This project is a critical infrastructure that will no doubt bring the government closer to its people.
“It will redefine Solomon Islands development and nation building process,” Hou said during the ceremony.
He further emphasised that this Coral Sea Cable system will drive sustainable development facilitate trade, make banking easier, expedite emergency response and opens tremendous opportunities for Solomon Islands.
But Foreign Affairs Minister Payne admitted that while the cable offers many opportunities, it comes with some challenges.
She said Australia is working closely with the Solomon Islands government and the World Bank to maximise the benefits and reduce the risks of this flagship project.
“We are helping your government to strengthen cyber security,” Payne said.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS
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