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Upgrading ports in the Pacific with smart infrastructure and processes will remove inefficiencies, reduce costs, and protect against natural disasters and climate change, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
Smart Ports in the Pacific finds outdated infrastructure and processes are contributing to safety and security risks, increasing the already high cost of goods and services, and adding further challenges to doing business in the region.
“Maritime trade is a lifeline for many Pacific countries, they need it for most of their food, fuel, and medicine, and rely on it to grow revenue-earning exports,” said Director of the Transport Division of ADB’s Pacific Department Dong Kyu Lee. “Applying technology, insights, and best practices to update, optimise, and secure Pacific ports is a smart move. It will reduce the cost of goods and services, and it will encourage economic growth.”
The report says smart ports make the best possible use of space, time, money, and natural resources, by applying advanced technology to enhance operational and energy efficiency and improve environmental sustainability. In the Pacific, applying the smart ports model requires international best practices to be aligned with local realities of small trade volumes, geographic isolation, and extreme weather events.
Practical limitations mean transformation into a smart port is a gradual, incremental process, which the report breaks down into five evolutionary steps. It provides recommendations on how countries can improve their ports in the short term through technology and business process improvements, as well as a framework for developing smart port ecosystems over the long term.
These recommendations consider the specific characteristics of ports in the Pacific. For example, where small cargo volumes make large investments in cargo processing technology inappropriate, opportunities still exist to reduce costs by installing solar or wind energy and LED lighting. Similarly, when automation upgrades are not feasible, digitising systems to measure performance and identify bottlenecks can still facilitate operational improvements and efficiencies.
The report has been produced as part of a larger effort by ADB to analyse trade and transport dynamics in the Pacific to identify investments that will help countries to capitalise on new growth opportunities..
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