The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$30 million grant to boost regional connectivity of Tuvalu’s outer islands.
The grant agreement was signed today at ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office in Suva by Tuvalu’s Minister of Finance Seve Paeniu and ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office Regional Director Aaron Batten.
“By replacing Tuvalu’s existing passenger and cargo domestic ship with a safer, more reliable vessel, Tuvalu will be better connected to its outer islands and neighboring countries of Fiji and Kiribati,” said Batten. “The new vessel’s energy-efficient design will reduce its carbon footprint, which will lower operating costs and lessen Tuvalu’s reliance on imported fuel.”
“Ship services are essential for Tuvalu as the only means of transport between our capital Funafuti and the outer islands is by sea,” said Paeniu. “This project will better connect the outer islands of Tuvalu to each other and Funafuti, improving livelihoods and opening up economic opportunities.”
The Tuvalu Strengthening Domestic Shipping Project will replace the Manu Folau, the existing passenger and cargo ship, with a new ship certified to international standards. The project will also rehabilitate the existing damaged port fenders at the Funafuti International Port to improve ship berthing safety, preventing damage to the wharf and ships calling at the port.
The capacity of staff at the Ministry of Transport, Energy, and Tourism will be strengthened through training programs focused on ship maintenance, ship scheduling, record keeping, and budgeting. Given the low numbers of women working in the maritime industry, the project will also focus on supporting the skill development and employment of women. The project will utilise ADB’s extensive experience with Tuvalu’s maritime transport sector to help address gender and social issues related to domestic connectivity.