Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has assured the visiting Pacific Games 2023 Chiefs of Missions that Solomon Islands is ready to deliver one of the most thrilling and safe chapters of the Pacific Games in 2023.
Sogavare made the assurance at a dinner on Saturday in the presence of visiting Chiefs of Missions from participating countries and the Pacific Games Council Board, who were in Honiara last week as the country launched its “One Year Count Down”.
The Chiefs of Missions held meetings with local hosting and organising authorities on the Games preparation and also visited construction sites of Games facilities including the main stadium at King George VI grounds.
“We will do everything within our ability to ensure your teams are looked after, protected, and safe when they come to compete during the 17th Pacific Games in November and December 2023,” Sogavare, who is also the Minister responsible for the Games said.
The Prime Minister expressed confidence that as a first time host, Solomon Islands is in a reasonably good space in its preparation and readiness to host the Games.
Sogavare also paid tribute to international development partners that aided the construction of the Games facilities including the Games Village, which, the Solomon Islands Government cannot fund alone.
The Prime Minister further assured that all Games venues including the Games Village will be ready on time and will be progressively handed over to the National Hosting Authority between January to October 2023 including the main stadium and games village.
Hosting the Games is a catalyst for other infrastructure developments such as the Honiara International Airport upgrade and the Honiara main highway network worth billions of dollars from development partners, which are expected to be operational next year prior to the Games.
Sogavare said winning the bid in 2017 to host the Games is a huge challenge for the Solomon Islands Government with the Government committing SB$550 million over a period of five years from 2019 to 2023.
“The challenges that looked so big after we won the bid to host the games in 2017, have transformed into opportunities that united our nation to stand together,” Sogavare said.
“The 2023 Pacific Games attracted more than a billion dollars’ worth of investment into the country’s economy over the past eighteen months and is more than just a project, it has become the centre piece of our economic recovery,” Sogavare added.
Business community marks ‘One Year To Go’
Meanwhile, members of the business community were part of the Sol2023 Pacific Games Organizing Committee’s (GOC) series of events over the weekend to mark one year to go before the opening ceremony of the 17th Pacific Games in Honiara.
This was during a Business After 5 networking with the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) on November 18 where the GOC Chief Executive Officer, Peter Stewart delivered a presentation on their preparation one year out, the progress made and opportunities for partnerships with businesses.
GOC CEO Peter Stewart stressed that the Games has a unique ability to build the capacity of the workforce within the country.
“Thousands of people will be involved in the delivery of these Games and through that process they will get training, get experience, opportunity to grow within their careers and we know from experience from other Games that the capacity of the workforce greatly improves by their involvement in these sorts of events,” he said.
Infrastructure improvement which are of great benefit to business is always a legacy for the Pacific Games.
For Solomon Islands, as a result of hosting the Games it would lead to improvement of roads, improvement to the country’s international airport, improvement to various venues which will all provide an opportunity for businesses to be able to prosper into the future.
The GOC CEO maintained that they will continue to work with SICCI to ensure that local businesses are talking to each other and working together to be able to provide the services that we need during the Games process.
“Because of the very huge involvement of Government, you tend to find that this helps to streamline Government processes and give a level of understanding to Government ministries about how they can support major projects of this nature and that therefore obviously provides a benefit to businesses in the long term as well,” he said.
SICCI CEO, Natalina Hong acknowledges the Games Organising Committee for their ongoing engagement with the Chamber and its members of the business community.
She said business participation before and after the Games has many opportunities for the benefit of the country’s local economy.
A significant benefit for Solomon Islands is the long-term investment which comes from preparing for such a major event like the Pacific Games.
The most notable infrastructure development project the Solomon Islands Government in collaboration with the Japanese Government are undertaking is the Kukum Highway Upgrade Project, which is also part of preparing Honiara City for 2023.
“The current Kukum Highway Upgrade Project and the recent commitments from JICA to upgrade our international airport will improve efficiency in mobility and drastically give a much-needed facelift to our capital city,” Hong said.
The SICCI CEO said development in key fundamental areas like communication, energy and transportation will redirect our economy to improve the investment climate so businesses can grow to benefit the community.