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Samoa and ADB

Beyond COVID-19 recovery, ADB assistance to Samoa will focus on energy investments, upgrading port facilities, constructing climate-resilient roads, and fostering private enterprise to create more jobs.

ADB's Work in Samoa

ADB Membership

Joined 1966

Shareholding and Voting Power

Number of shares held:
348 (0.003% of total shares)

39,462 (0.297% of total membership, 0.456% of total regional membership)

Overall capital subscription:
$5.01 million

Paid-in capital subscription:
$0.30 million

With a landmass of 2,934 square kilometers spread across two main islands (Savaii and Upolu) and several smaller ones, Samoa is dependent on fisheries and agricultural products for exports while importing most of its fuel and commodities. Approximately 70% of the population lives in rural areas and the majority of the workforce is engaged in subsistence activities.

Core development constraints include geographic isolation, capacity constraints in the public and private sectors, and high exposure to natural disasters and the effects of climate change.

Central Apia, the capital city of Samoa

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has assisted Samoa since 1966, with investments in critical infrastructure and support for policy reforms, public financial management, and increased climate resilience. Samoa has made strong progress on achieving development priorities relating to poverty, gender, health, education, and environmental sustainability.

Since 1966, ADB has committed loans totaling $190.9 million, grants of $239.4 million, technical assistance worth $34.5 million, and ADB-administered cofinancing worth $41.8 million for Samoa.

Cumulative loan and grant disbursements to Samoa amount to $283.4 million. These were financed by regular and concessional ordinary capital resources, the Asian Development Fund, and other special funds.

ADB-Supported Projects and Programs

ADB assistance to Samoa focuses on providing budget support for COVID-19 recovery and projects to develop reliable and sustainable energy, safer and more efficient road and maritime transportation, and improved disaster resilience.

Although Samoa has remained COVID-19 free, a measles outbreak in late 2019 and travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted its economy significantly. In response, ADB provided $20 million in budget support under the Health Expenditure and Livelihoods Support Program and $1.5 million through the Asian Pacific Disaster Response Fund, financed by the Government of Japan.

Samoa is rehabilitating old hydropower plants and building new ones to achieve its target of going 100% renewable and wean off its dependence on imported fossil fuels for power generation.

ADB committed the Systems Strengthening for Effective Coverage of New Vaccines in the Pacific Project, including a grant of $7.5 million for Samoa, to improve overall immunization rates and support greater efficiency of primary health services. As part of its COVID-19 response, ADB will consider additional financing to support COVID-19 vaccinations.

To improve the reliability of energy supply, ADB financed the Power Sector Expansion Project and the Renewable Energy Development and Power Sector Rehabilitation Project. The first installed over 50% of Samoa’s generation capacity and battery storage for grid stabilization. The second rehabilitated and constructed hydropower plants. In 2017, ADB signed its first nonsovereign transaction in Samoa through a loan of up to $2 million for solar power generation. All these investments will contribute to Samoa’s renewable energy target of 100% by the end of 2025.

Apia Harbor, Samoa

In transport, ADB has supported a project to enhance the safety, security, and sustainability of the main port in Apia, along with financing to upgrade Samoa’s central cross-island road, which was committed in December 2020.

Samoa is prone to extreme weather events and disasters triggered by natural hazards. ADB has historically provided relief in the wake of such disasters. In 2017, the bank committed $6 million under the Pacific Disaster Resilience Program as contingent financing for disaster response, early recovery, and reconstruction activity. In April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ADB expanded the program to include health emergencies and Samoa drew down $2.9 million. The program was replenished for Phase 3 with a $10 million grant in December 2020.

ADB also supports private sector development through the Samoa Agribusiness Business Support Project, which commenced in 2014 and is cofinanced by the Government of Australia. The project facilitates access to financing and business support services to selected agribusinesses.

The Samoa AgriBusiness Support Project provides business support services and financing to agribusinesses.

Nonsovereign Operations

As a catalyst for private investments, ADB provides financial assistance to nonsovereign projects and financial intermediaries. Total commitments in loans and equity investments from ADB’s own funds in 2020 amounted to $1.4 billion for 38 transactions in economic and social infrastructure, finance sector, and agribusiness. ADB also actively mobilizes cofinancing from commercial and concessional sources. In 2020, ADB mobilized $1.9 billion of long-term project cofinancing and $3.3 billion of cofinancing through its Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program and Microfinance Program. Total outstanding balances and commitments of nonsovereign transactions funded by ADB’s own resources stood at $14.3 billion as of 31 December 2020.

Financing Partnerships

Financing partnerships enable ADB’s financing partners, governments or their agencies, multilateral financing institutions, and commercial organizations to participate in financing ADB projects. The additional funds are provided in the form of loans and grants, technical assistance, and other nonsovereign cofinancing such as B loans, risk transfer arrangements, parallel loans and equity, guarantee cofinancing, and cofinancing for transactions under ADB’s Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program and Microfinance Program.

ADB began cofinancing operations in Samoa in 1984. Since then, sovereign cofinancing commitments for Samoa have amounted to $109.6 million for eight investment projects, and $2.63 million for seven technical assistance projects. Nonsovereign cofinancing for Samoa has amounted to $1 million for one investment project and $0.22 million for one technical assistance project.

A summary of cofinanced projects is available at Samoa: Cofinancing.

Operational Challenges

ADB projects in Samoa continue to be affected by geographic isolation, capacity constraints, and issues related to environment and social safeguards. A submarine internet cable, which went live in 2018, has helped overcome the challenges of remoteness through improved connectivity, while the project to improve Apia’s port will help reduce trade and transport costs.

Capacity constraints limit project implementation in Samoa, although the capacity of both the government and the overall economy is gradually increasing. The COVID-19 pandemic imposed serious challenges, with the government needing to assess impacts and formulate response measures rapidly. Improved internet connectivity allowed virtual engagements with development partners to seek expert support.

ADB’s work in the Pacific and the partnership ADB shares with its developing member countries.

Future Directions

ADB operations in Samoa are covered in the ADB country operations business plan, 2021–2023 for 11 small Pacific island countries. The business plan is targeting improvements to Samoa’s growth prospects and overall living standards and is closely aligned with the government’s Strategy for the Development of Samoa, 2017–2020.

Beyond COVID-19 recovery, ADB assistance to Samoa will focus on energy investments, upgrading port facilities, constructing climate-resilient roads, and fostering private enterprise to create more jobs. ADB will continue to help build sustainable capacity for sound economic and public sector management, and implement reforms of state-owned enterprises.

This article was originally published in the ADB and Samoa: Fact Sheet. Updated yearly, this ADB Fact Sheet provides concise information on ADB's operations in the country and contact information.

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