Approximately 60,000 Fijians will gain access to the internet for the first time as the Fijian Government opens "Telecentres" in schools across the country.
Each Telecentre offers schoolchildren and members of the surrounding community access to Dell and Lenovo computers connected to the Internet, web cameras, headsets, document scanners and printing services - free of charge.
The Attorney-General and Minister for Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said that the Telecentre project was one of Government's most important initiatives.
"Providing free Internet access to ordinary Fijians is one the best ways we can empower our people," he said. "It connects them to the world, offers them exciting new opportunities, and provides them access to important information."
The Telecentres will be used by school children during school hours and by the rest of the community after hours and on weekends.
This includes many ordinary villagers and farmers who have never had Internet access before.
The first Telecentres were launched by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, in October 2011, at Suva Sangam College, Levuka Public School, and Rakiraki Public High School.
Recently, Telecentres were opened by the Prime Minister at Baulevu High School and Tailevu North College in the Central Division and by the Attorney-General at Nukuloa College in the Western Division.
Another five will open at locations around the country in the coming weeks, followed by ten more later in the year.
"20 Telecentres will be operational by this time next year," the Attorney-General said. "And we believe that at a direct result of this initiative, approximately 60,000 Fijians – including 5,000 students – will gain access to the Internet."
Members of these communities will be able to browse the Internet and use web chat services such as Skype to keep in touch with relatives and friends living in other parts of Fiji and overseas.
The local community will also have access to a range of other services.
Users will be able to scan documents so that they can be saved on a computer and sent over the Internet. Printing services will also be available.
The Minister said that this project was part of the Government's ongoing efforts to forge a smarter, better connected and more modern Fiji.
"As we continue to support the expansion of internet connectivity to more and more households in Fiji, Telecentres are a community-based solution that will hasten this process for Fijians living in rural and remote communities."
The Minister said that it was critical to balance long-term national polices with service delivery to individual Fijians.
"It is really a combination of a top-down and a bottom-up approach. While we work to develop our broadband capacity in order to spur economic development and create new opportunities for business, education, health, and finance, we are also working at the grassroots level – in individual schools and communities," the Minister added.
"It is only through such a balanced approach that we will be able to establish Fiji as the hub for telecommunications in the Pacific."