The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tonga Campus Director, Dr Robin Havea, staff and students welcomed New Zealand’s International Development Cooperation Lead Adviser, Katherine Halliburton, the Policy Officer, Mabel Ye, and Network Strategies Telecommunication Engineering and Strategy Consultants Dr Mike Hamilton-Jenkins and Dr Salim to the campus recently. The visit includes partnering with Pacific Island Countries across connectivity, cyber safety and cybersecurity capacity-building activities.
The USP Tonga Campus Director, Dr Robin Havea said the visit was an opportunity for them to share their experience on a lot of things; particularly the impact of COVID-19 and the volcanic eruptions on the ICT infrastructure.
“They were very much interested in how our satellite system served us during the blackout and what challenges we had during such a difficult time. Although we may appear to be operating with comfort as far as ICT is concerned, we do have quite a considerable number of challenges that we must make sure that we are always well prepared when such natural disasters occur,” he said.
“Further, they learnt about the complex USP communication network which is a mixture of fibre optic cables and satellite technologies,” he added.
Network Strategies has been engaged by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Government of Tonga (GoT) to support the Government of Tonga’s priority to improve communications redundancy, which is a key recovery and resilience priority following the January 2022 eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (HTHH) volcano, and subsequent tsunami.
This study will provide the Government of Tonga with information to enable decision-making about improvements to the redundancy and backup options for international and domestic communications networks.
To further these aims, Network Strategies is seeking to collect data that will help provide insight into the current and future demand which will then be used to estimate the potential socio-economic impact of service disruptions.
Network Strategies proposes to gather information through a series of in-person meetings with several public and private sector agencies.