The event was witnessed by Kiribati President Taneti Mamau while Minister for Information, Communication, Transport, and Tourism Development Tekeeua Tarati delivered the keynote address. Prerecorded speeches were delivered by ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez and Southern Cross Cables Limited Chief Executive Officer Laurie Miller.
The Improving Internet Connectivity for Micronesia Project supported by ADB helped install a submarine cable connection between Kiritimati Island to a transpacific cable system connecting Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii to gain access to faster, more affordable internet.
"Kiribati recognizes the significant impact access to high-speed and high-quality internet has on the development of a nation," said Tarati in a press release on Monday.
"This enormous potential for socioeconomic development cannot be underestimated, especially when it is harnessed in both private and public sectors. Information and communication technology (ICT) is needed to grow the health, education, agriculture, tourism, governance, and finance sectors, as well as improve disaster management and address climate change," Tarati added.
ADB provided a $21.6 million grant to Kiribati to help finance the Kiritimati cable component of the project. The high-speed internet services are expected to be officially launched by the government in July 2022.
"Supporting inclusive growth and investment in ICT are key focus areas of ADB’s Pacific Approach which guides ADB’s operational focus in the region," said Gutierrez.
"The project will deliver affordable, accessible ICT services, which will reduce costs for businesses, governments, and households," Gutierrez added.