The importance of the provision of adequate quality infrastructure in determining the future trade performance of the Solomon Islands.
Last week the we learned of the Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project (SIRAP) to upgrade Malaita’s road network and provide improvements to Honiara international airport and Munda airport in Western province.
The project financed by a US$30.5 million (SB$238 million) credit and a US$20.5 million (SB$160 million) grant by the World Bank, together with US$3.6 million (SB$29 million) from the Solomon Islands government.
The launch of the project represents a significant achievement for Malaita, which will see an upgrade and maintenance to the 232-kilometer main road network.
It’s estimated that 110,000 people live near the roads which will be improved – this means thousands of people will benefit from safer, more secure roads along with better access to markets, families, jobs and healthcare.
This is an important step towards a more integrated Malaita with greater opportunities,” said Malaita Premier Daniel Suidani.
For aviation support – the launch marks the beginning of works to update runways and improve navigation and communications equipment at Munda and Honiara international airports.
Also last week we learned that China is certainly eyeing Solomon Islands raw materials to boosts its economy and sustain its 1.4 billion people
This interesting information was mentioned during the Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday when the head of ministerial delegation Peter Shanel Agovaka appeared before the committee.
Additionally, last Monday, in the early announcement on the 2020 budget implications, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury said in 2020 key priority projects that would be progressed included; the Tina River Hydro Development project (TRHDP), the Submarine Cable project, Bina Harbour seaport and fisheriesprojects, Munda international airport project, tar sealing of Seghe, Taro and other key domestic airports and Henderson international airport upgrade project, the Honiara and Auki road projects which are critical to stimulate growth at all levels.
Minister Kuma also revealed that agriculture will be one of the key focuses in 2020.
In agriculture, the government is intending to facilitate and support the development of commercial agriculture and prioritize key targeted investments including noni, cocoa, coconut and cassava.
All good news, but Solomon Islands transport infrastructure has for a long time fallen short of meeting the demand for its need to grow the economy.
The plans announced will need to succeed to improve roads and develop Bina harbour, upgrade the Munda International Airport and the Henderson International Airport and then such developments will help to remove the past constraints to doing business overseas.
Meanwhile we should take serious note of China’s interest in raw materials and seek to find commodity outlets to export our products, utilising the air transportation and shipping links already in place and those to be developed.
Also,bearing in mind the capacity of a country to effectively trade with its partners is very much dependent on the efficiency of its customs authorities and the customs related infrastructure in place – rapidity in releasing/clearing of goods, valuation, and ensuring compliance with import and export procedures.