Like most other nations, #Fiji has seen an acceleration in the adoption of digital technology as the health concerns of the coronavirus pandemic have pushed more of our interactions and economic activity into online spaces.

Our data usage saw a 23 per cent surge post-COVID and we expect that trend to continue.

A mere 10 years ago, the consequences of a global pandemic would have been far more severe for our people and economy.

But as part of a strategic, decade-long effort to modernise our economy and develop our telecommunications, we have made historic strides in bridging the digital divide in our society.

In a way, we were unwittingly adapting to this crisis long before anyone had ever heard of the coronavirus.

Today, 95% of #Fijians can access mobile internet connectivity, across 3G, 4G, and 4G+ networks and our access to the Southern Cross Cable fibre optic network, which we have connected our two largest islands to – provides fast, direct, resilient and secure connectivity.

This was expressed by the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the International Telecommunications Union Virtual Digital World 2020 Ministerial Roundtable on “the role of digital technologies during and after #COVID-19 pandemic” last night.

The A-G said this network will be further improved with the completion of the Southern Cross Next Cable Network (SXNET) offering even faster connectivity by the end of next year.

“Our 26 “telecentre” projects are bringing digital technology into Fijian classrooms in under-connected regions and as connections speeds have increased, our deregulated telecommunications sector has seen data prices plummet,” the A-G said.

The #FijianGovernment has developed a contact tracing mobile application – the #careFIJI application – which is based on the TraceTogether application pioneered by Singapore and to-date that app has been downloaded over 81,000 times by Fijians.

This app will be pivotal to maintaining Fiji’s exemplary record of COVID-containment and building confidence among various development partners.

“To aid Fijians who are out-of-work or on reduced hours as a result of the virtual closure of our tourism industry, we’ve employed an array of digital tools – such as applications under the unemployment benefit scheme were made through the Superannuation Fund portal and for quick disbursements through the M-Paisa mobile wallets and electronic transfers,” the A-G added.

“If anything, this pandemic has proved to us how adaptable and resilient digital technology can make a society, and we will press ahead with our digital transformation as a matter of absolute necessity for our long-term economic security and prosperity.”

“As Ministers, Regulators and private sector executives, I hope we all take this opportunity to learn from each other, see what has worked and what hasn’t, and together build a more digital, inclusive – and more resilient – world,” he encouraged.

About 17 Information, Communication and Technology ministers, regulators and tech experts from around the world shared knowledge, strategies and policies to explore the future of digital technologies at this meeting.

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