Ten Pacific Island countries which are members of the World Bank have a population of about 3.4 million people, scattered across an area equivalent to 15 percent of the globe’s surface, with a development trajectory that will be shaped by their economic geography.
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HONIARA, February 28, 2014 – This week, I attended the G20 meetings in Australia, where I spoke repeatedly, and fervently, about the need to invest in infrastructure for job creation and economic grow... Show More +th. I was adamant that this is central to achieving the World Bank Group’s goals of ending extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity.It is vital for emerging economies to realize their aspirations. It is vital for the mother who hopes that the water coming out of the pipe is clean - and available - so her children do not get sick; for the informal settlement dweller who wants his children to study but cannot afford an electricity bill; for farmers who need all weather roads and reliable shipping to get their goods to market.Just two days later, I was on a three hour flight to Solomon Islands, a beautiful tropical country of over half-a- million people, inhabiting 30 percent of its 1,000 islands, atolls and islets which are scattered across an immense, 1.34 million square kilometers of ocean. Given the unique challenges of its geography, perhaps no other country has a deeper need for reliable and high quality infrastructure. From air and marine transport links, to good roads, telecommunications and energy generation, all are needed for provision of reliable services, and to enable local businesses to grow and expand.Talking to the Solomon Islanders that I was privileged to meet, their stories have imparted the reality and the magnitude of the infrastructure issues that challenge growth and progress in their country.I heard that Solomon Islands has the lowest ratio of roads per square kilometers of land in the Pacific, and that only 16 percent of the country’s households have access to electricity, most of this powered by expensive imported diesel, and the majority of them are clustered in the capital, Honiara.Solomon Islands was ranked 97 out of 189 countries in last year’s joint IFC – World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. The business people I spoke with told me that the cost of doing business is extremely high, and the price of energy is a huge part of this cost. The electricity tariff is US$0.90/kWh, one of the highest in the world.I’ve learned that shipping services to the most remote parts of the country are irregular and that the air transport system can be very unreliable. Limited infrastructure often results in the sudden cancellation of flights and boats, leaving passengers stranded for days out in the provinces, and people without goods and supplies.I also learned that Solomon Islands is one of the world’s most at risk countries from natural hazards – like earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and floods. This makes it absolutely crucial to consider disaster risk management in all infrastructure project designs. At the same time, with supportive infrastructure, it was clear to me that Solomon Islands has great potential to increase economic returns from its vast and un-spoilt fisheries and tourism, provide better services to its far flung population and engage more regularly with its neighbors.A lot of work has been done to improve critical roads, water and shipping infrastructure in Solomon Islands, with the support of donors like the Asian Development Bank, the Governments of Australia and Japan.We as the World Bank Group are proud to be providing assistance to the Government and the citizens of the Solomon Islands in this area. With other donors, we have facilitated regulatory reforms in the telecommunications sector to encourage competition, lower costs, and increase the use of mobile communications. In just four years, the number of Solomon Islanders with mobile phone access has increased from 11 percent to over 54 percent. This is a remarkable achievement.In the energy sector, the World Bank Group is supporting the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority with investments in generation and transmission lines, and breaking new ground in helping the Government develop a hydro power project that could bring transformational change to the lives of the people.As perhaps the largest development project in the country’s history, the Tina River Hydro Project could replace around 75 percent of the diesel-powered generation capacity on the Honiara grid with clean, renewable hydropower. This would considerably reduce the cost of electricity generation, bringing tremendous benefits to households, and provide a huge stimulus for the private sector. If a project of this magnitude is realized, it promises a profound impact on Solomon Islands’ ability to attract investment.There is no doubt that providing support for infrastructure in an environment such as Solomon Islands, as elsewhere is challenging, and evidence shows that investors in infrastructure are very sensitive to country risk. In this sense, it is the job of institutions such as the World Bank Group to assist governments to manage such risks, whether through enabling effective regulation and policy, through increased transparency, or risk sharing through instruments such as guarantees. I am excited to see many of these issues coming together in our collaboration with the Government in Solomon Islands. Of course, our efforts should not stop there. More than many other places I have been to, Solomon Islands demonstrates the need for innovative solutions and effective partnerships across private, government and donor agencies, in order to build effective infrastructure that reduces poverty, raises living standards for all, and helps this country to achieve its abundant potential. Bertrand Badré is World Bank Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer Show Less -
Visit affirms strong World Bank support to Solomon IslandsHONIARA, February 26, 2014 – Managing Director and World Bank Group Chief Financial Officer, Bertrand Badré is visiting Solomon Islands from F... Show More +ebruary 26th to March 1st, where he will meet senior ministers of the Solomon Islands Government, donors and the private sector, and visit a number of major projects that the World Bank Group is supporting.As a sign of the World Bank Group’s increased cooperation and support for the Solomon Islands, Mr. Badré will meet the Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, and Minister of Finance and Treasury Rick Hou’enipwela, among other senior officials, and discuss the World Bank Group’s commitment to Solomon Islands in various areas, including: rural development, clean energy, fisheries resource management, climate change and disaster risk management, and private sector investments that enhance job creation and employment.Mr. Badré is visiting the country after attending the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Australia.“It is my pleasure to make my first official visit to the Pacific region and to discuss how best the organization can support development progress in Solomon Islands, as the country looks to increase social and economic opportunities and secure sustainable economic growth,” said Mr. Badré.Mr. Badré will use the occasion of his visit to demonstrate the strong commitment of the World Bank Group to the Government of Solomon Islands for a number of significant projects.On Thursday, Mr. Badré will visit the Soltuna head office and processing facility at Noro in Western Province, where the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group has recently invested US$10 million to help the company expand its facilities.The expansion of Soltuna is expected to create an additional 500 jobs, allowing the local women and economy to receive greater benefits from the income generated by the tuna industry, which is vital to the Solomon Islands economy.The World Bank is also providing policy advice towards preparing the Tina River Hydropower Development Project, which aims at improving the cost, reliability, and spread of electricity throughout Solomon Islands.Mr. Badré will be given an aerial tour of the area in Central Guadalcanal proposed for the Tina River Hydro Project, as well as meet with staff from the Project Office to get an overview of the current state of project preparation.The Tina River Hydro project is one of the largest proposed development projects in the country’s history, with the potential to replace around 75 percent of the diesel-powered generation capacity on the Honiara grid with clean, renewable hydropower.During the visit to Western Province, the Managing Director will stop by at Enoghae village, near Noro, where the Rural Development Program (RDP), a multi-donor program financed by the Bank, Australia, European Union, International Fund for Agriculture Development and the Government, has supported the community to build a water supply system for its primary school. This is among the 370 community projects supported by RDP across the country.Mr. Badré is responsible for the financial and risk management strategies of the World Bank Group and for the institutions that make up the Group.This includes development of new, innovative financial products and services, oversight of the financial reporting, and mobilization of financial resources in alignment with the Group’s strategy.Mr. Badré contributes to the international dialogue on financial standards and best practices, primarily through his representation of the Group at the Financial Stability Board. Show Less -
SYDNEY, February 17, 2014 – The World Bank today announced that it would be funding repairs to the port, airport and damaged roads in Ha’apai, all badly affected by Tropical Cyclone Ian, as part of pr... Show More +ovisions under its Transport Sector Consolidation project which is supported by the Government of Australia.A World Bank team recently returned from visiting cyclone-affected communities in the Ha’apai island group, which suffered the most devastating impacts as a result of the Category 5 cyclone on January 11th and 12th, 2014.Initial damage assessments have shown that 5,500 people have been affected by Cyclone Ian, with many losing their homes and crops, and there has been considerable damage to community infrastructure. In total, 943 buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged.The World Bank team reported preliminary estimates of total damages and losses at TOP93 million (around US $50 million), equivalent to 11 percent of the country’s GDP.“Cyclone Ian has caused devastating losses to thousands of people and recovery will require long term efforts to rebuild safer and stronger,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands. “The World Bank is currently assessing how best it may contribute to recovery in Ha’apai, in accordance with the wishes of the Tongan government.“To date, the Bank has confirmed it will invest US $1 million in the transport sector which can be allocated quickly under its Transport project, alongside the risk insurance payout of US $1.27 million announced on January 23rd, that is supporting immediate relief efforts.“Going forward, other possible areas of support include the housing sector. The World Bank is exploring possible avenues in this regard and is currently providing technical assistance to the Government to assess housing needs, and develop a reconstruction policy and framework.”Repairs to transport infrastructure on Ha’apai will be funded under the Transport Sector Consolidation project, supported by the Government of Australia, which is working to improve transport safety and effectiveness in Tonga. Show Less -
SYDNEY, February 7, 2014 ----- Today at a ceremony in Sydney, a new project was launched to support climate change adaptation measures for coastal communities in Samoa. The grant agreement was signed ... Show More +at the World Bank office by World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands, Franz Drees-Gross and the High Commissioner for Samoa, H.E. Lemalu Tate Simi.The Independent State of Samoa is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, with 70 percent of the population living within a kilometer of the coast. Approximately 80 percent of the country’s 400 km coastline is at risk from erosion, flooding, or landslides, meaning climate-related events, including tropical cyclones and storm surges, pose a significant threat to people’s lives, their livelihoods, and to development.The US$14.6 million program will assist 45,000 Samoans in coastal communities in adapting to climate change and climate variability; protect coastal infrastructure; and increase awareness about climate change impacts and adaptation activities among communities, civil society and government.“The World Bank is committed to helping small island states manage pressing risks from natural disasters and climate change,” said Drees-Gross. “Through the Climate Investment Funds, we are proud to support Samoa in critical efforts to increase the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure, which could help protect their very survival as well as long-term development.” The project will provide trainings and support in targeted communities to update and implement local Coastal Infrastructure Plans, and for activities that increase the resilience of coastlines, near-shore areas, and coral reefs. It will offer community grants of up to US$22,700 for village-level projects that target coastal resilience, for example planting activities, mangrove rehabilitation, improved water storage, or the relocation of small infrastructure, and up to US$227,000 for more complex multi-village activities.Additionally the project will help improve national climate information services and hazard mapping, through financing of a comprehensive light detection and ranging system (LiDAR) throughout the country.“This project takes on the dual role of infrastructure and adaptation activities as well as education and awareness raising activities, which impress upon our people the importance of being climate aware,” said H.E. Lemalu Tate Simi. “With so much of our coastline vulnerable to weather and climate-related events, this project is necessary to ensure our future resilience and development.” Samoa consists of four inhabited and five uninhabited islands and has a population of around 195,000 people. This project will operate in 99 villages in 16 districts on the most populous islands, Upolu and Savai'i.The Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Coastal Resources and Communities Project is being financed through a US$14.6 million grant from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) of the Strategic Climate Fund (PPCR), which is one of two funds within the framework of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). The CIF is a multi-donor facility supported by fourteen countries. Show Less -