ADB, World Bank team up to help Tonga get high-speed Internet

SYDNEY – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank are teaming up to help the Pacific Island nation of Tonga gain high-speed Internet access for its population of 100,000 people through an underwater fiber optic cable.

“The underwater fiber optic cable will connect Tonga up to the Southern Cross Cable, the main trans-Pacific link between Australia and the United States,” said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda in a news release ahead of his meeting with Tongan Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano this week.

"This critical link will connect Tonga firmly with the rest of the world, generating huge economic opportunities from early 2013 when the cable should be in place and marking a key step in Tonga’s international connectivity," Kuroda added.

World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick, who met with Lord Tu’ivakano this week, said access to high-speed Internet links will vastly improve opportunities for the people of Tonga to connect to the world, provide information needed by business to expand jobs, and allow people to more easily and cheaply keep in contact with families overseas.

"It will also make it easier for Tongans living abroad to remit money home – critically important as remittances comprise about a third of GDP, he said.

ADB said of the total $34 million cost of the broadband cable, it expects to provide $9.7 million, while the World Bank anticipates providing $17.2 million, pending consideration by their respective boards of directors. The government of Tonga will commit the remaining funds.