Yesterday, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Asia Michael Schiffer launched the new Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP) in Suva. Through DCCP-Pacific, USAID aims to increase digital access and connectivity and improve efficient delivery and use of digital services throughout the Pacific region so more people can access reliable, secure internet and participate competitively in the digital economy.
Digital transformation can drive economic growth, improve connectivity within the region and to the world, and empower Pacific Islanders.
USAID hosted the launch in partnership with the University of the South Pacific (USP), and witnessed by Secretary-General for the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Honourable Henry Puna, Vice Chancellor of the USP, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, and the Fiji’s Deputy Minister and Minister for Communications, Trade Co-operatives and SMEs, Honourable Manoa Kamikamica.
“USAID is here to listen, partner, and deliver—together with the people of the countries of the Pacific Islands,” said USAID Assistant Administrator Michael Schiffer. “Through DCCP-Pacific, we will facilitate investments in broadband connectivity and digital government transformation; promote community-level solutions; and leverage traditional and non-traditional technologies, such as low-earth orbit satellite access, to enhance digital connectivity so that more Pacific Islanders can access secure internet and participate in the digital economy. ”
To achieve an open, interoperable, and secure digital ecosystem in the Pacific Islands region, USAID will build on existing investments in the Pacific’s digital ecosystem, promote regional partnerships, and engage directly with 12 Pacific Island countries: Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
In the Pacific Islands region, USAID promotes high-quality infrastructure and information, communications, and telecommunications projects to encourage sustainable economic growth and provide faster, more reliable and secure communications so communities share information and access early warning systems. Through programs like DCCP-Pacific, USAID is committed to facilitate the expansion of digital government services as an anchor for encouraging broader digital transformation and encourage and catalyze needed ICT and digital investments in the Pacific. USAID seeks to ensure Pacific ownership and work to strengthen regional cohesion with government, civil society, universities, donors, development partners and marginalized communities to amplify results, achieve greater resilience, and ensure scalability and sustainability of interventions.
“Last year, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders launched the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The strategy paints a vision for a resilient Pacific Region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity. As part of our journey to achieve that vision, we aspire to a future in which all Pacific peoples benefit from access to affordable, safe, and reliable ICT infrastructure, systems, and operations, while ensuring culturally sensitive user-protection and cyber security,” stated Secretary General of PIFS Honorable Henry Puna. Hon. Minister Manoa Mamikamica added that “The Fiji Government now more than ever is making strides, to improve meaningful connectivity and to invest in modern and resilient ICT infrastructure. Strategic partnerships and projects, like USAID DCCP and close consultation with multi-stakeholders are key components to ensure that we progress towards a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy in Fiji and the Pacific.”
As part of the launch, USAID DCCP-Pacific and USP signed an MOU, introducing the partnership between the two parties. USP Vice-Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia said, “In the area of Digital Connectivity, USP has for the last 20 years been at the forefront building ICT connectivity infrastructure to the 12 member countries of the Pacific - there are a lot of synergies that bring USAID and USP together for digital connectivity and cybersecurity in the Pacific, and considering the unprecedented challenges of these times, I believe it’s in such a uniquely placed partnership that the Pacific has its best chances to address the times ahead.”
Members of civil society like the Pacific Disability Forum, Pacific Internet Society, Pacific Women in ICT; regional organizations such as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), The Pacific Community (SPC), donors, development partners, USP students, and representatives from Pacific Island governments, policymakers, the private sector and ICT specialists across the 12 member states attended the launch.