ADB's Work in Samoa
From Power Lines to Classrooms
From power lines to classrooms, results of the partnership between Samoa and the Asian Development Bank are evident around the country.
The frequent power outages that once plagued Samoa were more than an inconvenience. At the country’s hospitals, they were endangering lives.
For years, electricity supply had been problematic in many parts of Samoa, particularly in the countryside. Long blackouts and voltage fluctuations affected productivity and damaged appliances. Not only was the electricity supply unreliable, it was also unaffordable for many.
Sosefina Taulauta, a health worker and mother, has seen the dramatic improvement in power supply to the National Health Service hospital on the main island of Upolu. This has benefited the public at large, including Sosefina’s twin daughters.
“Their health has improved because the facility has better power supply,” she said. “After visiting the doctor, their health gets better and this means they are active in education, church, and the village. I believe they have a promising future.”
The improvements are the result of the Power Sector Expansion Project, the 2007 joint undertaking of Samoa, ADB, the Government of Australia, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The project helped the country develop an effective energy policy and provide reliable and affordable electricity. Under this project, as well as other investments in the power sector dating back to the early 1990s, ADB has helped to finance over half of the installed generation capacity in Samoa.
With limited natural resources and a narrow economic base, the country faces formidable challenges to its social and economic development. ADB has helped Samoa overcome these challenges by building infrastructure and supported economic reforms and improvements in the business environment for private enterprise.
"We appreciate ADB’s commitment to helping Samoa achieve economic self-reliance by pursuing a private-sector-led economy and to help us prepare for climate change challenges and a renewable energy future. As a founding member, we have a strong partnership and share a long-term vision with ADB for the sustainable development of Samoa"
The results of this partnership can be seen in Samoa today: the power lines along the coastal roads; the school buildings in every village; the small businesses, from roadside stores, to print shops, to beach resorts that draw tourists from all over the world. But some results are hidden from view, such as the electricity transmission wires that supply the national hospital on the main island of Upolu, which the ADB project put underground to avoid disruption caused by storms and disasters.
After joining ADB as a founding member in 1966, the first major project in Samoa was the Faleolo Airport and Road Project in 1969. It helped promote tourism by upgrading the country’s main airport to suit short-haul jet aircraft and improving the road to Apia, the capital and largest city. Work continued with investments in energy, transport and telecommunications, and agriculture and forestry. ADB also helped establish the Development Bank of Western Samoa.
In the 2000s, ADB turned its attention more to infrastructure, increasing access to services and helping create the basis for a vibrant private sector.
Following the double impact of the global economic crisis and the devastating tsunami that hit Samoa on September 2009, ADB worked closely with other development partners to provide flexible financing to assist Samoa’s reconstruction efforts and support reform efforts. Early in 2010, ADB opened a joint office with the World Bank. As ADB’s portfolio in Samoa continued to expand, ADB expanded its presence further in 2016. This has strengthened relationships with the government and supported project implementation. A $16 million Economic Recovery Support Program agreed in March 2010 helped Samoa put in place policies to encourage higher economic growth, and improve the delivery of basic services to the poorest and most vulnerable. ADB provided a further $14 million in 2013 to improve fiscal management and build resilience to climate change, including a city plan for Apia that included guidelines for mitigating the risk of natural disasters and their impact on government resources. A new grant, approved in 2016, supports further policy and public enterprise reforms.
ADB has supported small businesses in Samoa, through a $5 million agribusiness project agreed in 2014. So far, 10 businesses—producing a range of products including natural cosmetics, coconut oil, and vegetables for the tourism market—have been able to access cheaper financing from commercial banks, allowing them to grow and provide jobs.
ADB is also working closely with Australia and the World Bank to develop a new submarine cable system, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2017. This project, for which ADB approved $25 million in 2015, is expected to significantly reduce internet and telephone costs, and help government to improve services to citizens.
“We appreciate ADB’s commitment to helping Samoa achieve economic self-reliance by pursuing a private-sector-led economy and to help us prepare for climate change challenges and a renewable energy future,” said Sili Sâlâ Epa Tuioti, Samoa’s minister of finance. “As a founding member, we have a strong partnership and share a long-term vision with ADB for the sustainable development of Samoa.”
This article was originally published in a special edition of Together We Deliver, which tells 50 stories highlighting the importance of good partnerships in Asia and the Pacific in meeting the complex development challenges of this dynamic region.