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A-G Joins Digicel Celebrating Liberalisation

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday said Fiji’s telecommunications sector had advanced in leaps and bound since the liberalisation of the market. He made the remarks while officiating
02 Oct 2020 10:42
A-G Joins Digicel Celebrating Liberalisation
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with grant winners Karolina Saunitoga and Mahazabeen Khan, and Digicel chief executive officer Farid Mohammed. Photo: Kelera Sovanasiga

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday said Fiji’s telecommunications sector had advanced in leaps and bound since the liberalisation of the market. He made the remarks while officiating at the launch of Digicel’s 12th anniversary in Fiji.

He said the entry of Digicel into the market followed a Government decision to liberalise the economy, not only in the traditional areas of the economy, but also in fundamental sectors such as telecommunications.

The Radisson Accord

The decision was made at a time when the industry was all monopolised in long term exclusivity, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“Since we didn’t have much competition in Fiji, customers did not have much choice,” he said.

“We then engaged two World Bank consultants to help us navigate our way through the companies that had exclusivity.”

The Radisson Accord was born following three-days of negotiations, said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The accord liberalised the telecommunications, he said.

“This is why we are where we are today,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The need for competition was important without which businesses would not operate efficiently, he said.

Connectivity

“By competition, we create innovation, we create productivity, people think outside the box, because you want to be able to compete with the other companies,” Mr Sayed- Khaiyum said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said some areas were without connectivity because the returns to the service provider was not feasible.

That’s where Government steps in and works with the respective organisations to enable connectivity, he said.

“Telecommunications, internet, mobile connectivity has been hailed as the greatest equaliser,” he said.

“It becomes the greatest disequaliser if you don’t connect some people.Those who are connected will leap ahead. Those who are not connected will get left behind, which is why it is in our interest to ensure everyone is connected.”

Advanced

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji’s telecommunications industry had leap-frogged.

A pivotal component of the telecommunications sector, he pointed out, was the need for absolute transparency.Fiji’s young population, and neutral accent were among contributing factors to the prospects of creating jobs in the information, technology communications sector, Mr Sayed-haiyum said.

He cited coding and back-end processing as examples of work that could be generated as a result of such factors.

Competition

As a show of Government support, Government subsidised wages of workers at Mindpearl call centre for three years, to ensure they stayed in business.

Digicel Fiji’s chief executive officer Farid Mohammed said the company had spent $30 million in upgrading its services this year.

He said the arrival of Digicel in Fiji brought with it expansion of coverage to the maritime islands, affordability of mobile phones, and reduction in call rates.

“Customers were paying 99 cents a unit, thats $1.98 a minute,” Mr Mohammed said.

“With the competition Digicel brought to the market, you can call for free, within the same network.”

Digicel’s infrastructutre were in pre-5G, Mr Mohammed said.

“We’re not only about making money,” he said.

other recipient of the grant, receiving $50,000 for the purchase of water tanks for a community in Vanua Levu.

CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

  • Digicel commemorated the occasion with a presentation of two cheques valued at $50,000 each.-
  • For the development of mangrove planting at Navola Village along the Coral Coast, Mahazabeen Khan was the recipient.
  • Karolina Saunitoga of Savusavu was another recipient of the grant, receiving $50,000 for the purchase of water tanks for a community in Vanua Levu.

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