Tuesday, 25 January 2011 10:05 AM

Rural Internet Connectivity Programme for Solomon Islands

The government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community for the roll-out of a rural Internet connectivity system in the country.

Dubbed PacRICs, the system will provide Internet access to over twenty hospitals and schools in the country.

The sites include around 21 provincial-based hospitals, rural health care centres and rural-based schools.

The system would enable local health workers and doctors to access medical information and to connect with other medical professionals in the region and the world in the course of their practice.

School students will be able to access a digital library or information database with such a rural Internet connectivity system in the course of their learning.

SPC's Director-General Dr Jimmy Rodgers-Bird says Solomon Islands is the first regional country where multiple government ministries have joined together to sign the PacRICs M-O-U.

"They've agreed by the signature to jointly support the on-going costs. And they are also by that very signature now showing a new mode....government sectors will work together with various types of resource constraints which each ministry has will be set and hopefully provide more service to the people."

The Director-General also says that S-P-C is working towards rolling out the Rural Internet Connectivity System at the first 17 sites within the next six months.

"We hope to have all 21 centres operational in 2 months. We are putting in 280-thousand US dollars worth of equipment, and that is remaining as we speak. In fact in anticipation of this signing we have already put in orders for some of the equipment to come in. So I guess we hope that within the first six months of this year we would have at least 17 of those up and running and within the 12 months all 21."

Key ministries involved include the Education, Health and Medical Services, Provincial government, NDMO and the Police

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Shanel describes the M-O-U signing with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community as a significant milestone for the country's rural-based people.

Speaking at press conference following the signing this afternoon, the Foreign Affairs Minister says PacRICs is a cheap and reliable Internet solution for the country.

Mr Shanel says a pilot PacRICs project at the Gatokae College in Western Province has already proven successful and the rural Internet connectivity will enable people in rural communities to reach out to the outside world.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province
By JAQUE FRIEDMAN New Zealand