The World Bank Group has taken an important step in significantly increasing its presence in the Pacific, with the official opening of a new office in Suva, Fiji, which will serve as a regional hub for the development institution’s work across the region.
The new regional hub will be integral to the World Bank Group’s delivery of more than one billion Fiji dollars’ worth of projects across six countries (Fiji, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu) in a wide range of sectors including transport, aviation, information and communications technology, education, disaster resilience, fisheries, health and education, among others.
“We are honoured to host the World Bank’s new regional office here in Suva — a location that is proving a natural fit for organisations of all sizes that are looking to make an impact in our region,” said Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “The World Bank joins a number of other development organisations, financial institutions and other regional players who are taking full advantage of Fiji’s globally-recognised position as the hub of human capital, innovation, development and forward-thinking policymaking in the Pacific.
“Our revolutionary Green Bond, our hospital PPP with Aspen Medical, and our newly-announced affordable housing partnership are all examples of recent innovations that have come about after the World Bank strengthened its engagement with Fiji and located staff in Suva three years ago — and now, with this new space, we look to build upon this great progress in the months and years ahead.”
The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, IFC, both members of the World Bank Group, have significantly expanded their support for Fiji and the Pacific, with World Bank funding to the region tripling since 2016. The new hub will allow for more staff to be based in the region and help countries meet their development challenges, through their diverse range of expertise from economics, transport infrastructure, information communications and technology, to disaster resilience, recovery and risk financing.
“The opening of our new Pacific hub here in Suva reflects our commitment to supporting the development goals of the South Pacific, including Fiji,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “Drawing on the wealth of knowledge that exists in the Pacific is essential to ensuring strong, sustainable development outcomes in the region, and this new hub is an important step for our partnerships and engagement in the Pacific to ensure they continue.”
The increased footprint in Suva will ensure the World Bank Group can work in closer partnership with many of the region’s key bodies, including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Community (SPC), and the University of the South Pacific (USP), as well as other development partners, to deliver even stronger development outcomes.
“We know the private sector is fundamental to creating jobs, so we are looking to increase our investments and advisory work supporting Fiji and other countries in the Pacific,” said IFC’s Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Vivek Pathak. “We are exploring opportunities to help meet the needs for infrastructure, tourism, retail and wholesale industries, and support small and medium sized businesses, as they are a key driver of jobs and economic growth.”
The opening of the new office follows the signing of the Establishment Agreement by Prime Minister Rear Admiral J.V. Bainimarama, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific, Victoria Kwakwa, and IFC Country Manager for the Pacific, Tom Jacobs in August 2017.