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More private sector investment, high speed internet needed in Fiji

Staff Writer |
Fiji government will continue to encourage investment in what we generally call economically-depressed areas, says Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

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These areas, he said, included Vanua Levu and the north west of Viti Levu, Lomaiviti, Kadavu, Lau and Yasawa, which had been declared as economic zones.

Sayed-Khaiyum raised this while responding to a question during the 2017-2018 National Budget consultations at the Fiji National University Samabula campus.

A FNU student had asked on Government's initiatives to decentralise services to other semi-urban areas and small town areas.

Sayed-Khaiyum said Government was carrying out several projects and introducing incentives to attract private sector investment in these "economically depressed" zones.

He highlighted one Government project which would allow Vanua Levu to be connected to the Southern Cross cable, a trans-Pacific network of underground telecommunications cables that connects Australia to the West Coast of North America.

"That submarine cable carries data and telephone capacity lands here in Vatuwaqa, Fiji," he said.

"A lot of the Pacific Island countries that actually want to connect to the Southern Cross cable have to come to Fiji.

"So Samoa is actually building a cable to connect to the cable in Vatuwaqa and that cable will come between Taveuni and Vanua Levu, including the Savusavu side."

Sayed-Khaiyum said they saw an opportunity in this to build a pipe out of that cable to land in Savusavu.

"We saw an opportunity so we borrowed about $6 million ($F12m) from the World Bank to build a pipe out of that cable to land in Savusavu," he said.

"The moment that happens, Vanua Levu gets high speed internet. What that means is that we can tell businesses, you can actually set up call centres there. That's how we encourage people to go into those areas."

This, Sayed-Khaiyum said, was what Government did to provide those kind of opportunities in infrastructure to attract private sector investment.

"The reason we have done that is that is obviously we want more businesses, factories, manufacturing plants and other facilities in that area," he said.

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