30 November 2022
On Thursday 17 November 2022, St Helena Government (SHG) signed a contract with Maestro St Helena Ltd (Maestro) (a company registered in St Helena) to design and build a fibre network across the Island. This work, and handover to the new service provider, is scheduled to be completed by 31 December 2023.
This award follows an extensive tender process that began in April 2022, and in September Maestro was identified as the preferred bidder. Senior Maestro personnel visited the Island in September and October 2022 and met with Elected Members, SHG officials and key Island stakeholders. Following a meeting of the Executive Council (ExCo) on Friday 28 October, Ministers took the decision to partner with Maestro. Since then work has been underway to finalise relevant details of the agreement.
Maestro was awarded the contract due to its strong bid and extensive experience of delivering comparable projects elsewhere in the world, particularly so in challenging environments.
Maestro’s bid included the construction of a future-proofed passive optical network to cover present and future fibre needs, as well as a wireless system to provide connectivity to more remote locations around the island.
Maestro are now mobilising their plans to deliver this project. Personnel and equipment are expected to begin arriving on-Island in the coming months.
As the contract signed with Maestro is to design, build and transfer the network by 31 December 2023, a further tender exercise (Lot 3) has been launched to identify an operator who will be responsible for running the new network once it has been completed.
The current Telecommunications licence with Sure South Atlantic (Sure) expires on 31 December 2023. A new licence for services will then commence from 01 January 2024. Work continues to create the appropriate regulatory environment for telecommunications and it is expected that a new regulator for the sector will be in place next year, well ahead of the commencement of any new licence.
Minister for Treasury, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, Mark Brooks, said:
“Today marks a significant milestone for St Helena. It cannot be understated just how significant the opportunity offered by the cable is for the Island. This is one of the largest projects we have had to encounter as a Council which has resulted in one of our biggest decisions to date. We recognise that it is our responsibility to make sure our Island sees the best possible benefit from this opportunity, and we are confident that the contract with Maestro to build the network will help realise that. Lot 3 is still to be awarded, but this is another major step towards ending the Island’s digital exclusion and truly joining the information age.”
“Whilst several bids were submitted, we chose the best option for St Helena’s long term future. Maestro’s bid offered the most viable route to realising this Government’s ambitions, as set out in St Helena’s Digital Strategy and our published Strategy and Vision 2023-2025, of utilising the cable to deliver fast, affordable, reliable and accessible connectivity for the Island. With this contract, a network which SHG owns will be built across the Island.”
“It will provide the platform for existing businesses to grow by opening up significant new opportunities to them, whilst creating the base for entirely new industries to operate in St Helena, from satellite ground stations to digital finance. This means that not only will the community and businesses benefit from connection to the cable through higher internet speeds and reduced costs, but SHG and the taxpayer will also reap financial benefits for many years to come through increased tax revenues, licence fees and rental costs. Ultimately, this cable will offer something completely new and revolutionary for St Helena in the form of exports, not through commodities or labour, but through services that can be offered to a global customer base and audience.”
“We are aware there are concerns that, were the work not to be completed by 31 December 2023, there may be an issue in terms of telecoms service provision come 1 January 2024. We want to reassure the public that this will not happen. We are working with Maestro to firm up their delivery timelines and are also considering a number of contingencies, with them and other parties, to ensure that in the worst case scenario telecoms services for the Island will continue.”
Carlos Bock, CEO of Maestro Technologies Ltd, commented:
“The Maestro team is honoured by this appointment and excited to start work on such a transformational project. On our various visits to St Helena, we have seen the huge potential that this project will underpin, the new infrastructure is an enabler for the Island of St Helena’s residents and businesses in respect of communications, energy, health care, tourism, skills and education. We thank St Helena for the opportunity to share the journey.”
ExCo agreed in April this year that in order to maximise the benefit of the Subsea Cable for the people of St Helena, it will be in the Island’s best interest to build and own a new fibre network to deliver broadband to local homes and businesses.
SHG issued a Request for Proposals for Full Fibre Design, Build & Transfer (Ref TISD-1619-SHG) on 13 April 2022 (the “DBT Tender”). This was a restricted tender, with all interested parties invited to tender. The DBT Tender included two lots:
- Lot 1 – Design, build & transfer (to SHG) of a passive fibre optic broadband network for St Helena
- Lot 2 – Design, build & transfer (to SHG) of the active network to light the fibre and bring it to a point whereby wholesale type services for data are provided.
The Tender closed on 10 June 2022 and a number of bids were received. The bids were of a high standard and were reviewed and moderated by SHG’s Evaluation Team which included their independent telecommunication consultants. As a result of this review, the Evaluation Team identified Maestro as having the highest overall score in line with the agreed evaluation criteria.
On Tuesday 6 September, ExCo advised that the Procurement Board should appoint Maestro as the preferred bidder. Since then work has been ongoing to finalise the details of the agreement, which included a number of visits to the Island from the Maestro team.
Note to Editors:
Maestro is a UK-based group of companies specialised in managing and investing in telecoms and IT projects. The Maestro team has experience in deploying fibre networks over the past 15 years and has delivered fibre to the premises to more than 200,000 homes in UK including building a wider network at a high rate utilising new build, BT Ducts and Poles.
The Maestro team, directly and through its subsidiaries is also deploying fibre and providing business services on Tenerife and Menorca, and in mainland Spain and the United Kingdom. Maestro operates, through its subsidiaries, as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) delivering services directly to customers. Also, the Maestro team has a software company that develops GIS, network operating systems and customer facing systems, (billing and support) and its portfolio also includes a mobile telephone service.
#StHelena #FibreOpticCable #Telecommunications #Maestro
28 November 2022