NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA (10 September 2020) — Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Ahmed M. Saeed will conduct a virtual meeting today with Tonga’s Minister for Finance, Revenue, and Customs and ADB Governor Tevita Lavemaau to discuss ADB’s ongoing support to the country’s development, including ongoing efforts to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Although Tonga remains COVID-19-free, the country’s borders are closed.

In his first virtual mission to the Pacific region, from 10 to 11 September, Mr. Saeed will pay a virtual courtesy call with Tonga Prime Minister Pohiva Tuionetoa. He will also meet with Tonga’s Minister for Health Amelia Tu’ipulotu, Minister for Infrastructure and Tourism ‘Akosita Lavulavu, and other senior government officials.

“ADB and Tonga have a long and deep history of working together in information and communications technology (ICT), energy, transport, and water and urban infrastructure,” said Mr. Saeed. “Tonga is a tourism-driven economy, which has been hit hard by COVID-19. ADB stands ready to further assist Tonga in coping with the impacts of the pandemic and recovering from it.”

Mr. Saeed is scheduled to virtually visit key ADB projects in Tonga, showing the country’s stronger ICT capability. This includes the ADB-financed Cyclone Gita Recovery Project, which is upgrading the urban electricity network to make it safer and more reliable with bundle cable and underground service lines that will sustain the infrastructure for more than 20 years. 

Mr. Saeed will also look at the progress of the Nuku’alofa Urban Development Sector Project, which is supported by ADB and the Government of Australia. This project is improving urban living conditions of people living in Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, by boosting their access to water supply, waste collection services, and providing flood management.

Mr. Saeed is scheduled to meet and discuss with public and private ICT stakeholders, civil society groups, and the media during his virtual visit.

ADB began working with Tonga in 1972 and has since committed $70.2 million in loans, $207.9 million in grants, and $23.3 million in technical assistance for the country. Cumulative loan and grant disbursements to Tonga amount to $134.4 million.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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