With hymns and dancing, American Samoans on Tuesday celebrated a new fiber optic cable link to Hawaii.
The cable will spur the development of high-technology industries in American Samoa at a time when tuna canneries, currently the economy’s mainstay, are closing or shrinking, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said.
“American Samoa celebrates one of the most significant economic development projects in its recent history,” Tulafono said.
The cable was previously used to link New Zealand and Hawaii. It was moved after New Zealand and Hawaii were connected by another cable with more capacity. It will also link Samoa, an independent country, and American Samoa.
About 500 people attended a ceremony for the cable launch at Governor Rex Lee Auditorium. State-run television broadcast the two-hour program, which included a Samoan church service with hymns and prayers, live.
Groups of dancers performed a traditional Samoan “slap dance” while moving in unison and joining to form a link.
One group of dancers representing Hawaii called out “Aloha” to the crowd. Another representing the Samoas called out “Talofa,” or hello.
American Samoa is part-owner of the new cable venture. The other partner is Florida-based eLandia International, which owns local wireless telecommunication firm Blue Sky Communication.
The cost of the project is estimated at $24 million, according to an eLandia filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tulafono has been hoping to diversify the territory’s economy by setting up call centers and other ventures.
A company registered in Hawaii, American Samoa Information Technology Inc., is working to set up operations in the territory.
Tulafono says the cable will also improve telemedicine and distance learning.