Australia’s ten-year SBD 1.5 billion Infrastructure Program kicks off
25 June 2021
Australia’s new ten-year SBD 1.5 billion Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program (SIIP) was launched today with the signing of a partnership arrangement between the Governments of Solomon Islands and Australia.
The arrangement formalised the commitment of both countries to the new Program and was signed by the Minister for National Planning and Development Coordination Rexon Ramofafia and the Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare witnessed the signing in a ceremony held in the Cabinet Room.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced SIIP in the same room during his visit to Solomon Islands in June 2019, as part of Australia’s Pacific Step-up. It is Australia’s largest single investment under the bilateral partnership and strengthens the enduring economic ties between the two countries.
The ten-year Program aims to improve the quality and accessibility of infrastructure to contribute to broad-based, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth in Solomon Islands.
In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Sogavare highlighted that Solomon Islands’ future growth was linked to well-planned and sustainable economic infrastructure.
“I believe that the Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program is a transformative initiative and a game changer that holds a lot of potential to facilitate and further advance socio-economic development in Solomon Islands,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.
“I urge all stakeholders to ensure that implementation will be effective, efficient, and responsive to the context and needs of Solomon Islands.”
At the launch, Dr Strahan made a pledge to the Government that the Program will strive to deliver high quality, inclusive, accessible, durable and sustainable economic infrastructure projects over the next ten years he noted that SIIP would build structures which were climate and disaster resilient and which respected local communities and the environment that are squarely decided by the priorities of the Solomon Islands Government.
Dr Strahan said SIIP would not only build new infrastructure, but would also help improve infrastructure polices and regulations, provide training for local industry, emphasise local content, create local jobs and increase access to finance. “SIIP will deliver big projects but also smaller projects that are locally led and driven by community needs,” said Dr Strahan.
During the ceremony, Dr Strahan also signed a Delegated Cooperation Arrangement with New Zealand High Commissioner Georgina Roberts for the first infrastructure project to be delivered under SIIP – the New Zealand-led upgrading of the Seghe and Taro provincial airfields to which Australia has committed SBD110 million.
Ms Roberts said, “this collaborative approach is an example of “kotahitanga” – different partners coming together with a common purpose: this being to support Solomon Islands to achieve its goals. By working together, we are stronger than the sum of our parts.”
Dr Strahan recognised New Zealand as Australia’s closest partner and acknowledged its leadership in the aviation sector in Solomon Islands.
“Connectivity is fundamentally important in driving development; transport links are critical. This project is testament to New Zealand’s clear-sighted assessment of the need for all-weather airfields in the provinces”, he said.
The launch of SIIP follows the recent announcement of a SBD180 million partnership between Solomon Power and the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific to finance the Tina River electricity transmission system.