The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday that it is scaling up financing support to Samoa in the Pacific region, committing itself to finance projects that will improve access to renewable energy, and extend information and communications technology (ICT) connectivity.
ADB President Takehiko Nakao and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi met in Apia, Samoa on Tuesday to examine opportunities for expanded collaboration and sign an agreement establishing a permanent ADB office in Samoa.
ADB has been supporting Samoa since 1966 and has committed 358 million U.S. dollars in loans, grants, and technical assistance to support the government's development priorities.
Of this funding, the ADB said 287 million U.S. dollars was from the Asian Development Fund (ADF), which provides concessional financing to ADB's lower-income developing member countries. Given Samoa's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, ADF financing terms were changed to 100 percent grant in January 2018.
Future support will continue to focus on economic infrastructure such as power, roads, and ports, as well as public sector management, the ADB said. Total financing from ADF for Samoa, including resources mobilized from ADF funds allocated for regional initiatives, could reach 100 million U.S. dollars in 2019 to 2020.
In addition, ADB said it will mobilize co-financing from development partners such as Australia, New Zealand, the Green Climate Fund, and the World Bank.
Economic growth in Samoa slowed to 0.9 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, following the closure of Yazaki Samoa, an automotive parts maker that was the country's largest private employer. Growth is expected to rebound in the current fiscal year as visitor arrivals increase and infrastructure investment expands in the lead-up to Samoa's hosting of the Pacific Games in 2019.
ADB has supported the development of Samoa's energy sector since the early 1990s. Projects cofinanced with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the EU have installed almost two-thirds of the country's current generation capacity of 45 megawatts.
ADB, Australia, and the World Bank supported the development and operation of a submarine cable fiber-optic system linking Samoa to Fiji. The Tui Samoa cable, launched in February 2018, will provide cost-effective internet connectivity and facilitate e-health investment.
ADB is building its presence in 11 Pacific island countries to increase the impact of its growing program of assistance.