Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Hou is confident that the undersea cable project is soon to start after he joined his two counterparts in Australia, to sign the Tri-Partite Undersea Cable Agreement, last Wednesday.
Speaking to the local media in a press conference in Honiara, Prime minister Hou was pleased to announce the sealed deal, Solomon Start reports.
He said, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the funding for the construction and the installation of the Coral Sea cable system was already signed.
The MoU was between Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
The project will connect the two Pacific island countries with Australia via fibre optic cables more than 4000 kilometres long to improve internet affordability and reliability.
Australia had been wary of Chinese company Huawei lining up to build the Solomon Island’s cables and was keen to elbow it out of the way because of strategic concerns.
The Australian government is set to chip in two-thirds of the cost of undersea high-speed communications cables for both countries PNG and Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands and PNG will spend just below AUD$19.7 million (US$14.6 million) in this project and the payments will be done in three installments as stated in the agreement
“The signing of course triggers a very important milestone in the development of this important project.
“It also clears the way to plan, construct and install the new cable system; the project should be fully operated in early 2020,” Hou said
He further explained the Coral Sea cable system comprises four pairs of submarine cable fibres that will link Honiara and Port Moresby directly to Sydney Australia.
“The international sub marine cable will utilise advanced multi-terabite technology will introduce high-speed international telecommunications cables to Solomon Islands which will also reduce the cost of internet and telecommunications in the country,” PM Hou told the local journalist.
However, the signing was done amid confusion over the landing site outside of Honiara main city few weeks ago after the Prime Minister signed another undersea cable agreement in Australia.
Asked if the government had already received any demands from the landowners, Prime Minister Hou said all the matters related to the landing sites is strictly dealt with by the Ministry of Lands.
“I am aware of the issue and the government through the Ministry of Lands and Housing and other main stakeholders is working on it make sure our landing site is ready as expected of us.
“I am very pleased to note that the landing site in Auki, Noro Western Province and Taro in the Choiseul province the preparations there are going really extremely well and I would like to registered my government’s appreciation for the respective provincial governments and the landowners,” Mr Hou said.
He added that the government has a very strict time table to fulfil, he hopes within the next couple of weeks these negotiations will be completed.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister has denied the claims of a private undersea cable being run from Vanuatu to Honiara as stated in the local media.
“My government is not aware of it; we did not receive any submissions from any other company apart from the undersea cable deal with Australia,” he said.