Australia is to fund new telecommunications towers in the Solomon Islands. The support for the towers was requested by the Solomon Islands government as part of its Covid-19 preparedness and response efforts.
Earlier this week, the Solomon Islands minister for communication and aviation, Peter Shanel Agovaka, and Australia’s head of the office of the Pacific, Ewen McDonal, exchanged signed copies of a funding arrangement worth SBD37.6 million (about US$4.7 million) for six new telecommunications towers to be built this year.
The SBM Online news service reports that the six new 3G/4G telecommunications towers will be rolled out across three provinces: four in the Shortland Islands in Western Province, one in Isabel Province, and one in Malaita Province.
As well as helping with the management of Covid, the increased 3G/4G internet coverage, particularly across the Shortland Islands, will also enable more efficient and effective management of the border with Papua New Guinea.
The towers will utilise Ericsson mobile communications equipment, NEC microwave links and Australian-supplied towers. The construction package will be fully funded by Australia. Local operator Our Telekom has committed to installing, owning, operating, and maintaining the infrastructure as part of its broader mobile network. All six towers are expected to be operational by the second half of 2022.
According to WHO figures there were, by 3 March, 7,258 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Solomon Islands with 106 deaths. As of 20 February 2022, a total of 301,294 vaccine doses have been administered. The population is estimated at 686,884.