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The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

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The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, arrives at USP to officiate at the opening of the new Japan-Pacific ICT Centre.

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre Opens Its Doors to the Pacific and Beyond

The 'Official Opening’ of the new Japan-Pacific Information, Communication, Technologies (ICT) Centre, took place at The University of the South Pacific's Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji, on 6 July 2010. It was opened by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Fiji Islands, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and the Japanese Ambassador to Fiji, H.E. Mr Yutaka Yoshizawa.

The Japan-Pacific Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Centre is the result of a project, designed to close the gap of the 'Digital Divide' in the Pacific region and promote the use of ICT in the region to boost economic growth, improve socio-economic development, reduce poverty and preserve regional cultures.

At a cost of US$21.5 million (F$43 million), the new Japan-Pacific ICT Centre is the outcome of a bilateral agreement between the Fiji Government and the Government of Japan. The project discussion initially began in 2003 and it has finally come to fruition and is one of the milestone projects at The University of the South Pacific.   

In his opening address, His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said, "This opening function is a celebration about more than the completion of buildings, and the reception of a vast amount of hardware, software, and technical assistance. It is a celebration of the potential of the people of the region, and particularly those who come to study and work at USP, to use ICT to overcome the distances that separate the region and to store and manage information better so that decisions relating to the development of our economies and societies can be taken sooner rather than later".  

Ratu Epeli added, "The wise use of ICT will enable the pacific island countries to grow their economies in directions never before thought possible. ICT has the potential to dramatically impact the development trajectory in the Pacific. Let us encourage all stakeholders, both within the University community and beyond, to use the resources of USP's Japan-Pacific ICT Centre to make a real difference to the development of the Pacific region".

"Ladies and gentlemen, today also marks the start of another construction - made possible yet again through the generosity of the Government of Japan. The 307 seat multi-purpose theatre – the third building- will promote the link between the traditional art, culture, music and dance of the pacific and modern technology, and will be the only one of its kind in the region. This will be another landmark in the rapidly changing landscape of the University", the President said.

The Japan-Pacific ICT Centre provides office space for ICT staff at USP (IT Services, Maths, Computing Sciences, Information Systems and Engineering), Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team or 'PacCERT', Pacific Regional Resource Centre (PRRC), and Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA). It also provides ICT 'incubator' spaces for ICT entrepreneurs to start their ICT business at the Centre. This is for industry use in collaboration with USP. Some possible entrepreneurship areas would be Mobile Telecommunications, Software Development, e-health, e-business, e-government and e-immigration etc. Once the business matures, the entrepreneurs can move on and continue their ICT business in the region. The Centre is equipped with 360 computers, 20 high ends servers, equipment for ICT-related engineering courses and cutting edge ICT equipment for video and audio conferences.

The Japanese Ambassador, H.E. Mr Yutaka Yoshizawa in his address said, "It is my great pleasure to be here to celebrate in this opening ceremony of a modern, new and great Information and Communication Technology Centre at this regional University. Today’s function is a milestone, because it marks the beginning of a new era with promising opportunities and success for many disadvantaged students across the region to follow suit".

The Ambassador said, "Japan believes its partnership with USP is vital to build manpower in this region and, in addition to the launching of the new state of the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, Japan through JICA will further assist USP with training programmes for the next three years commencing in February 2010, to develop and establish not only a sound ICT infrastructure and personnel to optimise the performance of USPNet, but also to encourage Distance and Flexible Learning courses as substitute mode of learning for potential learners of the widely scattered island nations in this region where USP campus does not exist. This project exhibits the level of cooperation between Japan and twelve USP member countries".

An essential role of the Centre is to facilitate high quality research in ICT. Research is needed to identify how ICT can best be used to address the unique problems of the Pacific region; for example, to use ICT to find information about the global markets thus reducing the impact of small markets and large distances between countries. Another area of research is the potential impacts of ICT on the unique cultures of the South Pacific as well as how these technologies might be used to preserve and enhance those cultures. Research is also needed on how businesses, governments and other institutions can best adopt the various facets of ICT advancements experienced in other countries.

The Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra in responding to both His Excellency the President and the Ambassador of Japan said, "USP is very grateful to His Excellency the President, for graciously accepting the University’s invitation to officiate at the opening ceremony, and the government of Fiji for providing the location of the new complex, in the form of the USP's Laucala Campus".

The Vice-Chancellor said, "Although the Centre is located here at the Laucala Campus in Fiji, it is a resource for the region. I wish to emphasise the fact that as a regional University, USP is committed to ensuring that the benefits from this very large investment reaches our other regional countries".

Professor Chandra, in thanking the Government and people of Japan said, "I wish to thank Japan for recognising the potential of the Pacific peoples, and for their generosity and foresight in agreeing to build this magnificent Japan-Pacific ICT Centre that marks a new, bold journey to break down the digital divide and create opportunities for the people of the Pacific Islands to benefit fully from the many opportunities offered by ICTs and the new knowledge economy".

It is envisaged that the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre will be able to generate some revenue by marketing the existing ICT products that USP currently has, increasing the number of training, increasing the number of research projects, renting spaces and working with donors on various ICT projects.

The Centre provides an opportunity for USP to be at the forefront of ICT development in the region. It will be able to provide support and services to all the countries of the region, many of which are quite small, varied in economic development, and separated by large distances. Local economic, social, cultural and other needs must be understood and the impacts and applications of ICT applied locally.

The new Japan-Pacific ICT Centre will provide effective and high quality ICT learning, teaching and training to the people of the Pacific. ICT now pervades all professions and familiarity with the effective applications of ICT, which is crucial to achieve the best possible outcomes. Furthermore, ways must be found to promote the advantages of ICT to secondary schools and, indeed, all sectors of Pacific society.

In concluding his address at the official opening of the new complex, Professor Chandra said, "I also thank the Government of Fiji once again for its foresight and assistance in its readiness to accept the funding for the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre as part of its bilateral cooperation with Japan. This truly demonstrates the contribution Fiji makes to the development of the region, and its special role as the host country for USP's main campus. Without the continued strong support of Fiji, the construction of this landmark building would not have been possible".

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This news item was published on 8 Jul 2010 11:33:18 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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