14 May 2014

Solomons solar maintenance pilot kicks off PSDI women’s economic empowerment program

As Honiara rebuilds from the devastating floods of April, comes some good news as training starts on PSDI's solar maintenance pilot to advance women's economic empowerment.

Under-investment in Women, who represent 40% of the world’s labour force but hold just 1% of its wealth, is now widely recognized as an opportunity cost for economic growth and business performance. In the Pacific, PSDI, through its Economic Empowerment of Women (EEOW) program, is implementing scalable pilots designed to remove barriers to women’s entry and participation in business and the private sector.
One pilot is aimed at equipping Solomon Islands women with the technical skills to start and run a local solar maintenance and repair business.  In South-West Malaita 718 households have gained many benefits from a solar panel scheme including cost savings on kerosene and diesel, improved safety and increased household productivity. However repair and maintenance of the panels remains a problem. The region’s remote location makes regular visits from the urban centers of Auki and Honiara expensive and complex, and many of the solar panels have fallen into disrepair and require maintenance. PSDI has launched a pilot to address these issues.

Technical skills, access to finance, business training
“We  have been working with the West Are`Are Rokotanikeni Association, an established NGO in the region, to consult with communities and identify women who are well placed to engage in a business to maintain and repair solar panels,” said project leader and PSDI Gender Specialist, Vijaya Nagarajan. “After identifying our enthusiastic entrepreneurs, we brought them to Honiara for their first training session when they received both hands-on training in solar power maintenance as well as advice on how to register their business, open bank accounts and manage business transactions.”
Trainee Rhoda Hina’I was quick to see the benefits of combining solar power maintenance with business skills training: “We need to learn more about maintaining solar so we can develop a new skill to make money to pay school fees or buy at the market”. The skills workshop is to be followed by bi-monthly training sessions in the villages aimed at refreshing technical skills and embedding new practices.

13 May 2014

What is PSDI doing in Solomon Islands?


What is PSDI doing in Timor-Leste?


What is PSDI doing in Tonga?


What is PSDI doing in Vanuatu?


What is PSDI doing in the Cook Islands and Tuvalu?

10 May 2014

What is PSDI doing in Competition policy in Samoa?

PSDI was approached by the Samoa Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labor to assist in developing a competition policy, which will then be used as the basis for a new competition law. In 2012 and the first half of 2013, a framework for the analysis of competition issues in Samoa was developed. A consultation paper sets out the role of competition, competition law, and competition policy in Samoa’s further economic development; proposals for a national competition policy for Samoa; and a policy development path, leading to recommendations to the Cabinet for a national competition policy and possible new legislation to follow.
The objective of the national competition policy is to sustain and promote the process of competition in markets within Samoa, in the interests of enhancing economic welfare and sustainable, equitable economic development. The draft national competition policy includes:
  • proposals for new laws to uphold competition in Samoa’s markets;
  • proposals for tasking an agency with responsibility for overseeing competition in Samoa’s markets and equipping it to carry out that responsibility;
  • proposals for policies on matters directly affecting competition in Samoa’s markets, such as state-owned enterprises, professional services, and the administration of government; and
  • proposals for policies on matters directly affecting the ability of businesses in Samoa to compete in regional and international markets.
The consultation paper has received comments, which will be incorporated into a competition law in 2014.

What is PSDI doing in Competition policy in Papua New Guinea?

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) Act 2002 provides for the establishment of a statutory body (the ICCC) to promote competition and the protection of consumer interests. A commissioner and two associate commissioners administer the ICCC, which comprises three divisions:

  • a competitive market and fair trade division,
  • a price monitoring and industry regulation division, and
  • a consumer protection division.

A staff of economists and lawyers undertake its statutory functions. The ICCC operates under difficult circumstances. As the ICCC is still working to build a public profile, complaints from the public remain limited, making information gathering a difficult exercise. Requests for information are routinely ignored and there are extremely lengthy delays in investigations. Further, businesses are either unaware of their obligations or choose to ignore them.
For example, mergers are not reported to the ICCC. In addition, requests for administrative review are frequently sought to stymie ICCC decisions.
Prosecuting such cases requires considerable economic and legal skill and sophistication. However, such skills and experience are, at present, critically short in PNG. This makes implementing something as complicated as the ICCC Act very difficult. To build capacity, PSDI is providing assistance to strengthen the capacity of the ICCC in PNG to increase its ability to investigate inquiries into competition cases.

What is PSDI doing in Competition policy in the Cook Islands?

The Cook Islands has a very narrow economic base. Often, there is only a single supplier of goods and services (e.g., of shipping services between the Cook Islands and New Zealand), even when the market is capable of supporting several competing suppliers. Concentration of ownership, especially in wholesale and retail trade, is another concern.

Given the size of the population and the technical characteristics of production, supply of many services tends to be a natural monopoly and it is, therefore, hard to directly introduce competition. For example, the major power utility company provides 90% of power supply in the Cook Islands. Telecom Cook Islands (TCI) has also been the sole provider of telephony services in the country. However, concern that outside competitors might enter the market caused TCI to slash the cost of overseas calls by half and increase the range of services it offered. Despite this, there have been many complaints regarding the high price and low speed of internet services as well as TCI’s business practices.
Significant uncertainty surrounds the implementation of competition law in the Cook Islands. It has no stand-alone competition law and has made significant use of price controls, which are often antithetical to effective competition policy. PSDI has provided assistance in the analysis of competition issues in the Cook Islands and, in the future, will help with developing a coherent competition framework.

1 May 2014

Solomon Islands: Rebirth of a Marina

The Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), co-financed by the Asian Development Bank, AusAID and the New Zealand Aid Programme, is lifting barriers to business in Solomon Islands by helping countries in the Pacific region reform their business environments to help the private sector grow and create jobs. The sale and rehabilitation of Sasape Marina, formerly a state-owned enterprise, highlights some of the real benefits that can result from state-owned enterprise reform and privatization. FIND OUT MORE