Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Japan Pacific Information and Communications Technology Centre
RATU EPELI NAILATIKAU
LVO, OBE (Mil), CSM, MSD, OStJ, jssc, psc
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Provincial Development & Multi-Ethnic Affairs
USP Laucala Campus Wednesday, 21st January, 2009
Your Excellency Ambassador Yutaka Yoshizawa
Vice Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, Professor Rajesh Chandra
Your Excellencies the Heads of Missions and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Staff and Students of USP
Ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed my great pleasure and an honoured privilege to represent the government and the people of Fiji at this important event, the groundbreaking ceremony of the new USP Japan-Pacific Information and Communication Technology Centre.
Through the years we have seen and experienced the important and significant role the embassy of Japan has played in developing and strengthening the economic and political relationship between Fiji and japan.
This groundbreaking ceremony signifies to the government and the people of Fiji, and indeed the 11 other pacific island countries of the university, the commitment of the Japanese Government to socio-economic development through ICT capacity building in the Pacific.
Your Excellency, at this juncture, especially after the dramatic events of the last two weeks, I would like to acknowledge and applaud – it would be remiss of me not to do so - the most generous pledge of emergency relief goods made by the Government of Japan as humanitarian assistance, for the rehabilitation of the thousands of flood victims of the recent natural disaster. This relief has been so kindly pledged in the form of much needed blankets, sleeping mattresses, water tanks and water containers, with a value of some 10 million Japanese Yen or about F$199,000 dollars.
Your Excellency, please accept the sincere gratitude of the government and the people of Fiji for your gracious generosity in our time of dire need. Please be assured that Government remains committed to ensuring that all your benevolent contributions will be put to good use, and as I had mentioned a few days ago, to help ensure that your noble purposes to assist Fiji are achieved, Government will provide a proper account for all humanitarian assistance receipts in this regard.
At the 2002 Pacific Islands Summit meeting with japan, it was recognized that USP’s “Information Technology project for the Pacific” would mitigate the digital divide among the Pacific Island countries and play a large part in development of the South Pacific region.
The Japanese government, after scoping studies conducted by Japanese study teams in 2003, 2005 and 2006, had graciously agreed to provide the grant aid to fund the construction of the centre under its bilateral development assistance program to Fiji on behalf of USP member countries. The centre will comprise three buildings, with facilities consisting of computer laboratories, conference rooms and a multi-purpose lecture theatre, with specialized equipment.
It is noteworthy to mention that in agreeing to fund the construction of the $29 million ICT centre here at USP, the Government of Japan is reinforcing its commitment towards the enhanced participation of the people of the south pacific in the world-wide information society.
Once completed, the centre will spearhead research development and education in the ICT field, thereby promoting socio-economic development through the growth of ICT potential. The provision of assistance in the ICT fields at USP through its distance and flexible learning program to the remote corners of the pacific is a highly significant contribution to overcoming the digital divide in the region.
Your Excellency, i would like to offer the government and the people of japan the most sincere and heartfelt appreciation of not only the government and the people of the Fiji islands but also the Governments and the peoples of the other Pacific Island countries for this generous assistance to the improvement of the information differential in the pacific and the promotion of socio-economic development.
Your excellencies the heads of missions and members of the Diplomatic Corps
Staff and students of USP
Ladies and gentlemen
I thank you for your attention.