By Freddie G. Lazaro
Sta. Ana, Cagayan — The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a leading communications technology firm that would build the Freeport’s “digitally-enabled” backbone to spur its full-scale development, Secretary Raul L. Lambino, CEZA Administrator and CEO, said yesterday.
“We need to build a digitally smart and ready Special Economic Zone in order to attract major investments, and this MoU is a major step in addressing that need,” Lambino said in a press statement.
He signed the MoU over the weekend with Converge Information and Communications Technology Solutions, Inc., a Philippine corporation considered as the third largest telecom firm, represented by Dennis Uy, its president and CEO.
Converge Information has access, Uy said, to an underground Fiber Optic Cable (FOC) and aerial distribution network and has extensive experience in installing, operating and maintaining a nationwide broadband service.
Under the MoU, CEZA gave Converge Information permit to exercise its Congressional franchise and provisional authority to “install, lay fiber, operate and maintain” optic cable within CEZA’s territorial jurisdiction, which includes the whole of Santa Ana, home of Port Irene, and several islands of Aparri farther west in Cagayan province.
Converge Information has proposed to install an “underground micro-duct backbone conduit” as well as “underground and aerial distribution and last-mile aerial fiber optic cable” within the Economic Zone.
The installation will eventually be extended to the Cagayan North International Airport in Lal-lo town.
To stabilize its power needs, Lambino said the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the Philippines’ largest distributor of electric power, is ready to step in amid a projected surge in demand in the country’s newest investment jewel.
In a proposal, Meralco cited its “accomplishments beyond the franchise area of Metro Manila and its suburbs” to support its bid to supply the Zone and Freeport an estimated 10 to 15 megawatts of power just for 2018 alone.
The CSEZFP based in Santa Ana, in the northeastern tip of Cagayan province, is almost 100 kilometers off-grid from the nearest distribution line of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Cagayan province.
Unstable power supply in the CSEZFP has made it a necessity among hundreds of business locators to keep their own gen-sets on standby whenever a shortage occurs.