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Cable operator looking for new chief

24 May, 2021

Current chief executive officer Ranulf Scarbrough is expected to depart the company in early 2022, however the company has begun its recruitment efforts allowing for a planned seamless
transition of leadership.

Since joining Avaroa Cable Ltd (ACL) in 2018, Scarbrough has been involved in the laying down of the 3600-kilometre Manatua Cable on the ocean floor, along with the development of the company into a wholesale fibre optic data provider.

The cable – which originates in French Polynesia and passes through to Rarotonga and Aitutaki and onwards to Niue and Samoa – provides the Cook Islands with broadband infrastructure that the company says can deliver data at speeds of up to 10 terabits per second.

Scarbrough said his term as the company’s chief executive has always been intended to be limited, however the pandemic has brought forth unforeseen challenges which has extended his term.

“My involvement was always intended to be finite; to help get the cable built, the international consortium running, establish Avaroa Cable Ltd as a self-funding network operator, and get the benefit of the cable to end users in the Cook Islands,” he said.

“Much of that has been completed, however, the Covid situation, as with so many things, has complicated the process.”

The company began advertising locally and internationally this month for his successor. The ideal candidate will possess telecoms industry experience, commercial experience, an established career as a chief executive or senior manager, and experience in policy and strategy development.

“The Board want to make sure that they recruit the best possible successor and that needs time to do thoroughly … it’s all part of a structured plan for the next phase in the evolution of Avaroa Cable and the Manatua Cable in the Cook Islands,”

Scarbrough said.
Tatiana Burn, chair of Avaroa’s board of directors, said Scarbrough was instrumental in bringing the Manatua Cable to the Cook Islands.

“The project has been completed, on time, and within budget. These are important statements, and that is amazing,” Burn said.

“As far as the board is concerned, he has done a fantastic job, and that is why we have asked him to stay another year.”

Despite the successes, a number of challenges remains for the company and the telecoms sector.

Local tech commentators have said the cable’s benefits have yet to be fully realised as internet speeds and prices haven’t changed as much as had been hoped for when the cable went live last year.

And the company is continuing its efforts to open up a route westward to Samoa and onward, which is expected to bring further commercial benefits to the company and potentially service improvements to local internet users.

“… there are a number of challenges, and they are areas Ranulf will be working hard over the next few months to accomplish,”
said Burn.

ACL is a government-owned company positioned as a local and international wholesale data operator. The company currently includes Vodafone Cook Islands as one its customers for internet connectivity.