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Friends, I want to welcome you all tonight and to highlight some of the great advances that we have made in Fiji in the ICT sector in recent years.

We’re very proud of the fact that not only do Fijians enjoy an astonishing level of access to telecommunications services for a nation of our size and stage of development. But that Fiji has become a telecommunications hub for the entire region.
So if you’re looking for a nation with a dynamic and competitive sector, state-of-the-art services and a transparent regulatory environment, Fiji is it.

The Fijian people have also shown a remarkable aptitude and enthusiasm to embrace new technology, whether it is hardware or software. Getting connected has never been easier or cheaper for ordinary people.

Since we deregulated the ICT sector in 2008, we’ve seen greater competition between our Telcos and lower prices. And all the while, my Government has been committed to establishing Fiji as the regional ICT hub in the pacific by bridging the technology gap between rural and urban areas, and ensuring equal access to technology at all levels.

Let me give you a brief overview of this remarkable growth and penetration. The ICT sector has contributed an average of around 6.3 per cent of our GDP each year from 2007 to 2015. Wired and wireless networks cover about 95 per cent of the country. Mobile phone subscriptions have increased by 7.7 per cent each year from 2007 to 2014. The total number of subscribers reached more than 876,000 by the end of the same period. Which is pretty remarkable when at the last census in 2007, there were just over 837,000 people in the entire country.

This suggests that many people have multiple phones and multiple SIM cards to get the best deals from their service providers. And are benefiting from that competition.

In terms of Internet usage, household penetration of Broadband increased from 7.1 per cent in 2007 to 30.7 per cent in 2014. A four fold increase in seven years. While the percentage of Fijians with Internet access rose from 10.9 per cent to 41.8 per cent over the same period. A figure boosted by the Government’s program to provide free Internet access in our Telecentres, mostly located in schools outside the main population areas.

We are determined that access to telecommunications isn’t only for relatively affluent people in urban areas. Because this isn’t a luxury but a right – an essential component of modern living.

Friends, all this has been accompanied by the extension of 3G and 4G coverage; the development of the region’s first national broadband policy; the continued expansion of e-Government services; the Digital Literacy Program; a state-of-the art government data centre built to Tier Two standards; plans for the establishment of a national Internet exchange point; the Universal Service Access project; various concessions on smart phones and telecommunications devices and ongoing tax incentives to attract ICT investment.

All of which adds up to a nation that is increasingly connected. Fijian to Fijian and Fijians to the rest of the world. It is an exciting time and we know that with the speed of technology development, that it is merely the start. And my Government is determined to keep Fiji at the forefront of the telecommunications revolution that is sweeping the world.

From a group of islands that were relatively isolated and in which communication for our parents and grandparents constituted of wireless and a land-line telephone, if they were lucky, Fijians are now truly connected with the rest of the world and able – as we are doing – to make our mark. And that is something truly worth celebrating.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications