Updated Thursday at 1pm
The Malta-Gozo fibre optic cable has finally got under way, with 24 fibre optics that will be installed guaranteeing "huge amounts of data" for "decades to come".
It has taken over four years to get to this stage, with funds for a feasibility study being allocated in 2014.
Early last year, Malta Enterprise had issued a call for tenders for a €3.5 million project, to be completed within nine months of the contract being signed. Elettra, a subsidiary of Orange Marine, had won the tender. The company will be represented locally by Joseph Cachia & Sons, a member of the M Demajo Group.
An appeal had been filed following the identification of the preferred bidder last August.
Speaking during the launch, Elettra CEO Didier Dillard said the first main phase of the project - a survey of the best route for the project - has been completed.
The route will commence at the Xewkija industrial estate and move 3.6 kilometres to the shore at Tal-Fessej, limits of Mġarr ix-Xini. It will then proceed under water for 13 kilometres, landing at Golden Bay before terminating 4.3 kilometres away at Żebbiegħ, Mġarr.
Speaking in San Lawrenz, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said a study had highlighted the islands could not depend on one fibre optic cable.
"While [Gozo] is showing clear signs of advancement, we need to close the gap between what is offered to Gozitan youth and families and what is offered on the main island," Dr Muscat said.
He said continuous investment would incentivise Gozitan youth to remain on the island.
"We will look back at this time as the period when Gozo reaped its best economic results," he said.
Further investment, such as the Malta-Gozo tunnel, would help provide a major update to both countries' infrastructure, he said.
The tunnel would act as a highway for foreign direct investment to flow towards Gozo in unprecedented levels, Dr Muscat insisted, saying it would give opportunities for Gozitans to work closer to home.
Gozo Business Chamber welcomes launch of project
The Gozo Business Chamber said that is it had proposed the project a number of years ago. It said the cable would make it possible for the ICT industry in Gozo to flourish, and the construction of the ICT Hub "a reality in the making".
The chamber encouraged government to implement this project as fast as possible for the benefit of business on Gozo, leading to new job possibilities for residents of the island.
Gozo Tourism Association says cable will attract more investment
The Gozo Tourism Association, in the meantime, said that the long-awaited project would enhance and increase the digital infrastructure in Gozo.
"The GTA believes that Gozo’s double insularity cannot be mitigated only through permanent links. But also, with projects like this announced investment will augment Gozo’s connectivity, opening up the island for potential private investment and job creation in the IT sector," it said.
However, it urged the government to step up efforts to improve fconnectivity through the introduction of the fourth ferry, the fast ferry and an airlink between Malta International Airport and Gozo.
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