New Zealand High Commission Honiara, Solomon Islands
Solobis May 2014
Welcome to the May 2014 edition of SoloBis, a bi-monthly newsletter prepared by the New Zealand High Commission, Honiara. SoloBis outlines economic and business developments in Solomon Islands likely to be of interest to New Zealand companies.
For further information on any of these stories, please contact the New Zealand High Commission, Honiara: email@example.com placing ‘Solobis’ in the subject line.
Solomon Islands Flooding
Heavy rainfall over the period 3-5 April resulted in serious flash flooding in Solomon Islands. The impact of the flooding was particularly damaging to communities in Honiara and across Guadalcanal, and the road to recovery represents a challenge for Solomon Islands.
The New Zealand Government along with other members of the international community have been active in providing assistance to the Solomon Islands Government and affected communities in the weeks that have followed. New Zealand will provide a Bailey bridge to help re-establish a critical link between Chinatown in eastern Honiara, and the city centre. This will replace the Old Mataniko Bridge that was washed away in the flooding. New Zealand has also provided critical relief supplies to non-government organisations operating in Solomon Islands to help meet the immediate needs of displaced persons.
Several weeks on from the flooding, Honiara and Guadalcanal are kicking back into gear, and Solomon Islands remains open for business. New Zealand companies should continue to keep a watchful eye on opportunities to engage.
National Infrastructure Investment Plan launched
On 19 March the Minister of Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Connelly Sandakabatu, launched the Solomon Islands National Infrastructure Investment Plan outlining the Government’s infrastructure investment priorities for the next 10 years. Key projects identified for progression include: the upgrading of Henderson Airport and provincial runways; the Tina Hydropower Project; road rehabilitation in Malaita, Guadalcanal, and Choiseul; and the Honiara Port redevelopment. The full report may be of interest to New Zealand businesses exploring investment opportunities in Solomon Islands and is available on request (we are not attaching it because of its large size). Please send enquires to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expressions of Interest invited for the Tina River hydroelectric power project
The Solomon Islands Government has asked private sector power developers to express their interest in participating in the Tina River Hydroelectric Power Project. The selected developer is expected to design, finance, build, own and operate the Project and sell capacity and energy to the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority under a long-term power purchase agreement. The Project will be located on the Tina River east of Honiara. A detailed feasibility study has been completed and will be available to candidates during the formal tendering process.
The Project is expected to have an installed capacity of 20MW and will include a Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) dam of approximately 50m height; a 3.3km headrace tunnel of approximately 3m diameter and a Power house with 4 x 5MW Francis turbines. Ancillary works will include a transmission line of approximately 22 kilometres length. Expressions of Interest close on 12 June 2014. Further information on the project is available at http://tina-hydro.com/.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, visits New Zealand
Prime Minister Lilo undertook his first state visit to New Zealand from 10-14 March 2014. Accompanied by Madam Lilo, Police Minister Chris Laore, Development Planning and Aid Coordination Minister Connelly Sandakabatu, Aviation Minister Walter Folotalu and Chairman of Government Caucus Namson Tran, the visit served to deepen the bilateral relationship and forge new commercial links. In addition to high level talks with Prime Minister Key and Foreign Minister McCully, Prime Minister Lilo met with members of the New Zealand-Pacific Islands Business Council and promoted investment opportunities in Solomon Islands. Prime Minister Lilo indicated that priority development areas for the Solomon Islands Government were in the extractive industries, fisheries, tourism and agriculture sectors.
Prime Minister Lilo welcomed a proposed New Zealand trade mission to Solomon Islands in July, with a view to increasing the flow of exports, innovation and expertise between the two countries. The mission is being organised by the New Zealand Pacific Islands Business Council.
Solomon Islands opens new High Commission in New Zealand
While in Wellington, Prime Minister Lilo officially opened Solomon Islands first High Commission in New Zealand. Although Solomon Islands has previously had an honorary consul in Auckland, this is their first full diplomatic mission. The new High Commissioner is Her Excellency Ms Joy Kere, former Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade. A key priority for High Commissioner Kere will be the expansion of commercial links between Solomon Islands and New Zealand. The High Commission can be contacted on +64 4 472 2827.
International Finance Corporation expands its footprint in Solomon Islands
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has signed a cooperation agreement with the Solomon Islands Government to expand its operation in Honiara. Under the new agreement, IFC will maintain a permanent office with four staff based in Honiara. IFC’s activities will focus on support for small and medium sized enterprises, and generating new investments in key sectors including energy, fisheries, and tourism. Currently IFC’s biggest engagement is the USD10 million loan to SolTuna in Noro to fund -60 degrees cold storage facilities, wharf rehabilitation, wastewater treatment, and construction of new staff housing.
Tax chief departs
New Zealand Inland Revenue secondee Mark Bell departed Honiara in late February after almost two years as Solomon Islands Commissioner of Inland Revenue. His legacy will be an increase in tax revenue of SDB346 million over the two year period. He has also overseen the installation of a new Revenue Management System, a Traffic Management System and improvements to staff competence and confidence. New Zealand will continue to fund the Tax Commissioner position as well as provide other policy, compliance and investigative support to Solomon Islands Inland Revenue. The recently appointed Tax Commissioner is Mr Aylton Jamieson who has a background in tax law at the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants. Mr Jamieson will fill the role for the next two years.
Kukum Highway Upgrade
The very poor condition of roads around Honiara, and the scale of traffic congestion, continues to act as a handbrake on economic growth in the capital. Surveying and technical work (led by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency – JICA) is under way to upgrade the main thoroughfare in Honiara. The project, aims to deliver wider and more robust roads and assist in reducing congestion. JICA advise that because the project will be funded using Japanese Grant Funding the prime contracting company is required to be Japanese. Sub-contracting opportunities are likely to be available for international firms once the prime contractor has been identified. For more information, contact JICA Solomon Islands on +677 24170 or contact Ms Naoko Laka at Laka.Naoko@jica.go.jp .
Contacts at the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI)
New Zealand business looking to explore commercial opportunities in Solomon Islands might like to consider including a call on SICCI when next in Honiara. The Chamber has a broad range of members and its CEO, Jerry Tengemoana, is keen to meet with visiting business representatives and discuss the Solomon Islands operating environment and upcoming opportunities. Jerry can be contacted on +677 749 9030 or +677 864 9605 or email@example.com.
New Zealand as a development partner in Solomon Islands
New Zealand is a key development partner in Solomon Islands, with official development assistance totalling NZD37 million in 2013/14 and projected to total NZD42 million in 2014/15. Significant recent achievements that contribute to the goal of improving Solomon Islands economic performance include:
- The refurbishment of Munda runway, Noro-Munda road, and then Nusatupe runway in August and October 2013 respectively.
- A SBD1.1 billion increase in revenue collection by Solomon Islands Inland Revenue since 2005 from institutional strengthening support from NZ Inland Revenue. This has formed the base revenue for Solomon Islands Government annual budgets.
- Fisheries income increasing 115% from 2010 to 2012, fisheries exports increasing 63% in the same period, and jobs for Solomon Islanders in the sector increasing with support from the New Zealand-funded Mekem Strong Solomon Islands Fisheries Programme.
- Improved access to education: 98% of primary-age children now enrolled in schools as a result of New Zealand and Australian funded school grants reducing school fees; and improved quality of teaching with 771 untrained teachers complete a diploma in teaching in 2014.
Solobis readers interested in discussing components of the NZ Aid Programme in Solomon Islands can contact Luke Kiddle, First Secretary Development, New Zealand High Commission, Honiara, +677 7494736, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: while every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this newsletter is correct, it is drawn from open source reporting and the New Zealand High Commission accepts no liability for its accuracy, nor for any actions or omissions taken on the basis of this information.
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