Developing a Digital Economy in Yap
|Submitted By:||University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program|
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The remote island chain of Yap state stretches across 100,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean as part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) located south of Guam in the western Pacific. Yap is among the most remote and traditional of the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. There existed an urgent need to create new alternatives that empower remote islands, fill critical technology gaps in their communities, generate jobs with career paths, ignite local entrepreneurs, and introduce digital economies never before seen in the FSM Pacific nation. Building-out a telecommunications infrastructure for that purpose, would traditionally be done by outside contractors with significant resource support. Perennial funding issues exacerbated by the COVID – 19 pandemics not only shut down borders and travel but amplified the vital need for reliable internet connectivity to remote and isolated islands more than ever. Boom! Inc., a licensed telecommunications company in Yap State, (FSM) headed by technology entrepreneur and indigenous Yapese, Mr. Lubuw Falanruw boldly took up the challenge to upgrade communications and digital infrastructure to put Yap State and all of the FSM to world standards. Rather than delaying these much-needed developments, Lubuw launched iBoom! Waab, Inc., with a ground team composed of local Yapese citizens, to tackle this daunting task themselves. Lubuw’s background in modern technology, together with his fellow Pacific Islanders’ indigenous knowledge and passion to better their island, resulted in the remote training of a local workforce who successfully provided high speed internet service to over 40 sites.