Kacific Broadband Satellites International Limited, a member of the Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific) has succeeded in its application to the Supreme Court of Tonga to restore Tonga Satellite Limited, a subsidiary of the Government of Tonga (TSL: company number 9006358), to the Register of Companies. This milestone means that Kacific can now continue its arbitration against TSL and the Government of Tonga.
Kacific came to Tonga’s aid during cable outage and signs long-term satellite broadband agreement with TSL
When Tonga suffered two cable cuts which plunged the nation into digital darkness in January 2019, Kacific quickly provided emergency broadband services to Tonga to ensure the nation’s most critical services could continue. Kacific has not been paid for providing that service.
To protect the nation from the consequences of any future cable problems the Government entered into discussions with Kacific for the supply of satellite broadband to the Tongan people and on 9 April 2019, Kacific and TSL signed a long-term agreement (the FSA) for the provision of satellite broadband internet in return for a single upfront payment of USD5,760,000 due on 15 June 2019. The satellite broadband would cover the whole of the Kingdom and would support the provision of e-government and e-learning services to Tongans living in remote locations and in the nation’s outer islands, as well as protecting the Kingdom against any disruption to its cable service for the next 15 years.
The fee remains outstanding. Following several unsuccessful attempts by Kacific to engage with TSL and the Government of Tonga in an open and constructive way about the payment of the fee, on 19 January 2021 Kacific commenced arbitral proceedings in Singapore against TSL and the Government of Tonga to enforce payment of the debt.
Kacific wishes to perform the FSA
Kacific has initiated the arbitration as the only means left to it to resolve its dispute with TSL and the Government of Tonga. Kacific’s preferred outcome is, and has always been, to perform the FSA: it wishes to provide bandwidth to the Kingdom of Tonga, and with it to bring benefits to those people in Tonga otherwise excluded from digital participation. The FSA will deliver on a vision for a digitized Tonga where all citizens have access to affordable broadband which would help eliminate disparities in health, education and e-government services.
Tongan Government fails to honour commitments
“Kacific negotiated with the Government of Tonga in good faith to provide affordable internet services to the nation, to safeguard the Tongan cable service and to enable connectivity for people living in remote locations,” says Christian Patouraux, CEO and founder of Kacific.
“We came to Tonga’s aid during its hour of need. We provided assistance when asked, immediately and without hesitation,” said Mr Patouraux. “Social responsibility is at the core of Kacific’s values. We provide broadband connectivity at an affordable price to underserved communities in the Pacific Islands and South East Asia, bringing tangible benefits to enterprise and access to healthcare and learning.
Kacific remains committed to operating openly and transparently in the Kingdom to deliver health, education and economic benefits and opportunities to the people of Tonga. It is deeply disappointing that Kacific has to undertake legal proceedings for payment, and that the Cabinet attempted to de-register and remove TSL from the Register of Companies after those proceedings had started. We are grateful that the Supreme Court has recognised this. The Tongan Government has benefited from millions of dollars (USD) of payments from international aid and infrastructure agencies to fund e-government initiatives and strengthen digital access over the last 10 years.”
FAKAMATALA FAKATONGA NOUNOU
Kuo ikuna ‘a e kautaha fetu’utaki fakasatelaite Kacific ‘i he’ene kole ki he fakamaau’anga ke toe fakafoki ‘a e hingoa ‘a e kautaha fetu’utaki ‘a e pule’anga’ ko e Tonga Satellite Limited (TSL) ki he Lēsisita ‘O e Ngaahi Kautaha pe Register of Companies ‘a ia ‘oku lēsisita fakalao ai ‘e he pule’anga’ ‘a e ngaahi kautaha pisnisi’. Ko ha makamaile ‘eni ki he kautaha’ ni he ‘e lava ke nau hoko atu ai ‘enau fakafekiki fakalao mo e TSL mo e pule’anga Tonga’. Ko e fakafekiki ‘eni he te’eki ke totongi ‘e he pule’anga’ mo e TSL ‘a honau mo’ua ki he Kacific hili ‘enau tū’uta ‘i Tonga ke tokoni’i e fonua’ he taimi na’e motu ai ‘a e keipolo faka’initaneti’ he 2019. Ko e alea ke totongi ‘a e pa’anga ‘Amelika ‘e nima miliona tupu (USD$5,760,000 ‘i he ‘aho 15 Sune 2019 kae fakahoko ‘a e ngāue’ kau ai ‘a hono fokotu’u ‘o e ako ‘i he ‘initaneti mo hono fakahoko e ngaahi ngāue ‘a e pule’anga’ ki he kakai’ fou he ‘initaneti’ pe ko e e-government mo e e-learning. ‘Oku te’eki totongi ‘a e pa’anga ko ‘eni a’u mai ki he ‘aho ni neongo ‘a e toutou feinga ‘a e Kacific ‘i he ngaahi founga kehekehe ki he pule’anga’ ke totongi ange ‘enau sēniti’. Ko e tupu’anga ia ‘o e ngāue fakalao ko eni kuo ikuna hono konga ‘uluaki’ ‘e he Kacific. ‘Oku fakame’apango’ia ‘a e Kacific he lava ‘onau fakahoko e tokoni ki he keipolo ne motu’ ka kuo te’eki totongi ange ‘enau sēniti’ pea toe feinga e pule’anga’ ia ke to’o hono lēsisita fakalao ‘o e TSL.