Pacific Infrastructure Opportunities Conference hosted in Fiji

Jun 12, 2024 | 2024, Blog, News

In May 2024, the Pacific region witnessed a landmark event with the Pacific Infrastructure Business Opportunities Seminar held in Fiji. The event marked a significant step forward in fostering regional development, bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, including government and national utility representatives from all Pacific Island countries, development partners, and a broad array of international, regional, and local contractors and consultants.

Hosted by the Fiji Government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the seminar was organised in partnership with key international bodies such as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, and the World Bank. The seminar provided a platform for discussing infrastructure priorities, challenges, and opportunities specific to the Pacific region.

The seminar featured participation from prominent entities, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), represented alongside its #TeamEurope partners, which include the European Union, the Agence Française de Dévelopement, and the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Trade and Business.

Tim Houghton, Austrade Trade & Investment Commissioner Fiji

Tim Houghton, Austrade Trade & Investment Commissioner Fiji

Tim Houghton, Austrade Trade & Investment Commissioner based in Suva, said in an email interview with AFBC, “The Business Opportunities Seminar was a really productive few days, and built on last year’s Pacific Infrastructure Conference [organised by the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council] to build momentum for industry engagement in the region. To have 400 Pacific infrastructure stakeholders in the same room was fantastic, and to have the conference in the Pacific itself was a fitting backdrop to the event.”

Throughout the seminar, several critical topics were addressed, including value-for-money procurement, quality infrastructure principles, local participation approaches, and strategies for effective partnership and collaboration. The event also served as a networking hub, allowing participants to connect and reconnect with vital national and regional stakeholders across all levels.

Brad Williams, Austrade

Brad Williams, Head of NZ and Pacific, Austrade

Brad Williams, Head of NZ and Pacific, Austrade, told AFBC: “Building on the success of the Blue Pacific Infrastructure Conference in September last year it was great to have another opportunity for open and constructive dialogue about ensuring procurement processes deliver value for money outcomes in the Pacific.” He added, “The networking and engagement around the margins of the Nadi event between business, governments and development partners was a real highlight.”

One of the key takeaways from the seminar was the emphasis on the critical role of infrastructure in driving growth in the Pacific. The region faces unique challenges, but by aligning expertise, technology, and procurement practices, participants collectively explored ways to contribute to sustainable development. The EIB reaffirmed its commitment to contributing to this significant endeavour, emphasizing the ultimate benefits for the Pacific Island countries.

Houghton also noted, “The collaboration from development partners and Pacific Island Countries on showing industry a consolidated pipeline of upcoming projects for the first time was great. For industry to see a minimum of US$2b in upcoming activity shows there’s enough work for everyone, and hopefully attract in new Australian entrants to the region.

“The overall sentiment from those I’ve heard from was very positive. The sessions delivered by Pacific Islands Governments were a highlight for me – they effectively articulated how much is going on in the region, and put out the call for anyone interested to get their hands dirty and get involved.”

The event received widespread acclaim for its organisation and impact. Attendees praised the seminar for its comprehensive agenda and the quality of discussions. The successful event set a positive tone for future editions, with many expressing enthusiasm for continued collaboration and progress in the region.

“I also enjoyed the turnout of local Pacific businesses – the connections between these local firms and Australian business will be integral to any successful delivery of projects, and the more we can deepen these linkages the further we can go,” Houghton concluded.