Friday July 25, 2014 - 2:37 pm | Login

Gov’t launches eGovernment Network

Prime Minister, Sato Kilman as minister responsible for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Telecommunication has taken the initiative to celebrate the official launching of the Vanuatu eGovernment Network today (Friday), at the Parliament complex.
This launching and celebration comes in recognition of the substantial landmark achievement of the accomplishment of the Vanuatu eGovernment Network Project.

The PM stated that “already over a decade into the 21st century, the global community shares a universal understanding of the importance of Information and Communications Technology as a key enabler for economic and social development.
“In developed, emerging, and developing economies alike, there is a constant call for “knowledge-based” economies and societies, driven by ICT, as the key to economic growth and improved standards of living for all segments of the population.
“For no purpose is that movement more important than improving the performance of public institutions and increasing the value delivered to the public in return for its investment and its trust in government.

“As such, the effective application of ICT in government becomes a critical component of the development of knowledge-based societies,” Kilman said.
He went on to say, “In Vanuatu, that understanding of the essential role of ICT led to the signing of a loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China to finance the first-ever “E-Government Project” in the Pacific region.
“As a result of the E-Government loan agreement and the subsequent Supply Contract between our Government and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., we have been able to accomplish a great deal,” he said.

These include;
•The construction and commissioning of the Government Broadband Network (GBN) and Government Data Centre;
• The migration of all Government telephony to the Voice Over Internet, or VOIP facility included in the commissioned network;
- The migration of all Government data traffic from copper leased lines provided by private operators to the GBN fibre optic infrastructure.
The GBN is now carrying all of the Government’s voice and data traffic. The migration has thus far gone very smoothly. Early on, there were a few technical issues that were quickly resolved with the assistance of the Huawei support engineers. Feedback from the user community has been overwhelmingly positive.

Voice communication is much clearer than before, even with and among outer islands. Data access is much faster than before as well.
The PM also stated that “Alongside the development and implementation of the GBN, we have also developed a Strategic eGovernment Plan called the Vanuatu Integrated Government Initiative (or iGov Initiative) that was endorsed by the Council of Ministers in November last year.
“This iGov Initiative provides a blueprint for the development and management of ICT, not as an end in itself but rather as a facilitator and lever for the comprehensive reform of Vanuatu Government service delivery capabilities.
“The core of the iGov Initiative is a sustained and intensive programme of ICT application to every facet of government business to improve performance and generate incremental value.
“I am pleased to inform you all that we have been able to make substantial progress on key components of our iGov strategic Plan.

“These include;
- The transfer of the ICT portfolio from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities to the Office of the Prime Minister where it can benefit from top-level attention and support, and more easily contribute value to all other sectors
- The establishment of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) in the Office of the Prime Minister as a dedicated centre for all government activities related to the ICT sector
- The identification of Government-wide applications requirements and the design of an effective applications portfolio.”

The PM stressed: “The full value of the iGov Initiative will not be realised until the applications are up and running and services to businesses and citizens have been improved. Those objectives are fully dependent on a stable and reliable network and data communications infrastructure.
“In that regard the GBN, established under the E-Government Project, is playing its critical role in the process. However, the continued stability and reliability of the GBN remain key objectives and major challenges for the Government from the financing and technical resource perspective.
“For this reason, I have instructed the OGCIO and the Ministry of Finance to work with our development partners and to spare no effort in defining an appropriate and sustainable approach to meeting those challenges,” PM Kilman continued.

“On behalf of the Government and the people of Vanuatu, I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China for its continued support towards our first-ever eGovernment Network Project.”
I realise that at the time of the loan agreement, the E-Government Project drew considerable criticism from the business community and the general public. In spite of the scepticism, we pressed on with the project and we now have the GBN to complement the two private sector backbone networks: Digicel and TVL.

“Vanuatu now has arguably the best Government and Private Sector ICT infrastructure in the Pacific Islands. We are working collaboratively with Digicel and TVL to link these networks to support redundancy and maximize the use of spare capacity.
“We are also looking at whether the Government Broadband Network can support, on commercial wholesale terms, carrying what is expected to be an ever increasing amount of data traffic.
“No matter how we optimize these three networks however, we will not achieve all of our ICT policy goals until they are connected to an international submarine cable.

“We need to make this happen in the shortest possible time.
“While we continue to encourage and support the well-publicised private sector-led initiative, the urgency and the strategic importance of the project to the economic and social development of our nation demands that we also continue our discussions with multiple development partners regarding a Government-led public-private-partnership approach.
“Only through a much stronger link to the international information infrastructure will we be able to continue building on our recent successes. Since the Government took the initiative to open up the telecommunications sector, prices have fallen, the number of services has grown, the coverage for mobile voice has increased to around 90% of the population, and the sector is now employing over 2,500 people.
“Not only has the ICT sector grown but so has the impact on the lives of everyone using telecommunications and other ICT products and services.
“During the ceremony the Ministers and MPs who have not yet been able to experience using the services offered on the new network, will be able to see firsthand demonstrations by OGCIO qualified local engineers who have been successfully trained both in Vanuatu and in Senshen Huawei Centre of Excellence in China.”

Kilman then stated, “Collectively our next major challenge is to ensure the same growth in the use of the internet and access to the world wide information sources and communities.
“Government is developing its policies to enable the private sector to achieve our vision of “ICT for All”.
“We will only succeed in our goal of “ICT for All” and support achieving a Healthy, Wealthy and Educated Nation, through close cooperation between the Private Sector and Government initiatives.
“As a priority we wish to see every school and manned health centre connected with high speed internet by 2015. This will enable considerable improvements in our education and health services,” Kilman said.