Australia is helping the Government of Kiribati connect its people with each other and the rest of the world.
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles today announced Australia will provide US$3.1 million for a World Bank-led Kiribati Telecommunication and ICT Development project to bring better telephone and internet coverage across the archipelago.
Mr Marles said Kiribati is severely disadvantaged by some of the highest phone and internet costs in the Pacific.
"Reliable and affordable communications are the cornerstone of communities' relationships and development," Mr Marles said.
"Schools, clinics and government offices rely heavily on network connections for their daily operations. Improved telecommunications encourages a more mobile workforce and, despite the vast distances between islands, can help preserve links between I-Kiribati communities."
In 2011 only 12 per cent of Kiribati's population had access to telecommunication services. It is hoped this project will increase that figure to 60 per cent by 2017.
The World Bank and the Government of New Zealand have also pledged US$1 million each to the project, which is being implemented by the Kiribati Ministry of Communications, Transport and Tourism Development and the Telecommunications Authority of Kiribati.
Mr Marles said the project aimed to promote competition between telecommunications providers in Kiribati.
"Our successful partnership with the World Bank has delivered improvements to telecoms elsewhere in the Pacific," Mr Marles said.
"The lesson learned from those experiences is that regulatory reforms and institution building can lead to competition, which leads to better access and cheaper phone calls."
- Parliamentary Secretary's Office: (02) 6277 4330
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
- AusAID Media: 0417 680 590