Kacific Satellite in dispute with Tonga
January 20, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Back in 2019 the Tongan Government signed a much-heralded 15-year agreement with satellite operator Kacific for access to the operator’s Kacific-1 craft.
However, according to numerous press reports, the government has allegedly failed to pay its obligations for the service. The agreement was structured to see service provided to 89 Tongan islands, some of which have now been badly hurt by the recent Tsunami.
The dispute between Kacific and Tonga is currently being heard in an arbitration court in Singapore, and involves a disputed US$5.7 million.
Not helping matters is a claim by the current Tonga administration that the previous government’s agreement was void as the local business, Tonga Satellite, did not have the right to enter into the contract and that it was signed without Cabinet approval, which led to it subsequently being closed down.
In 2021 Tonga’s lord chief justice, Michael Whitten, ruled that Tonga Satellite should be reinstated to the Tongan register of companies adding that it was clear the company had been removed by the Tongan government to frustrate arbitration of the dispute.
“Kacific is willing and able to restore connectivity since a valid and signed agreement exists to that effect between the Government of Tonga and Kacific,” Kacific CEO Christian Patouraux said in a statement issued on January 17. “All we need is to activate that service and perform that contract. We are now awaiting instructions. We have one simple message for the Government of Tonga. We can help. Please get in touch.”
He added: “[Kacific] is prepared to provide a full suite of satellite broadband services under a Framework Services Agreement that was negotiated and signed by Tongan Authorities in April 2019. However, the previous government was unwilling to perform the contract, and it is currently subject to arbitration in Singapore.”