Compared to 5-10 years ago, Vanuatu has made excellent progress into improving its infrastructure services. Such achievements have been possible through foreign investments as result of strong Government support to private sector developments and Official Development Assistance (ODA) through Government Bilateral Agreements. Connecting to the outside world through Vanuatu is no longer an issue and the ability to participate in the Global Value Chain is becoming a reality.
Roads and International Airports
The completion (in 2010) of a tar-sealed road around the islands of Efate and Santo through the assistance of the US Government-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation has significantly enhanced access to areas outside Port Vila and Luganville. There is now a lot of opportunities for tourism-related developments to expand into the rural areas of he two major tourist destination islands of Vanuatu. For example, Havana Resort has recently been developed in the northern part of Efate and a few more developments are in the pipeline and should be in progress soon.
More recently, more than 50 kms of tar sealed roads have been developed on 2 main islands of the Malampa and Tafea Provinces. Tanna Island of the Tafea province has been well known through the world for it’s volcanic scenery and adventures tour. With a tar-sealed road through half of the island, outlook for more developments looks really strong.
Vanuatu international airport Bauerfield has recently undergone serious improvements – the completion of its new cargo terminal and the extension of its runway to cater for larger aircrafts. The runway is currently ranked C and talks are underway to commence on an upgrade to category D which will see taking long haul flights.
In 2007, Santo’s Pekoa airport was upgraded and now handles international flights. According to current Governments agenda, one of its priority will be to expand the Pekoa airport inclduing other improvements. This is important as the Government starts to shift developments to the northern part of the country.
The introduction of a new telecommunication Company (Digicel) in 2008 has seen a dramatic improvement in telecommunications throughout Vanuatu. Getting in touch with colleagues and business partners outside of Vanuatu is now possible where ever you are in the country. This new development has seen telephone-call rates (national and international) significantly reduced.
Internet services has improved markedly during the recent past years with increased capacity for international links. The deregulation of the internet service provider (ISP) will contribute to further improvement in Internet infrastructure.
Progress is underway for Vanuatu to further improve its telecommunications infrastructure through the use of fibre optic networks.
Ports and Shipping
The Ports of Port Vila and Luganville have recently undergone significant improvements and expansion to cater for standard and large-size containers (20-foot). With funding through the US Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Port Vila wharf has been upgraded including the purchase of two tugboats. Currently, both ports have undergone major upgrade; the Port Vila port known as the Lapetasi project funded by the Japanese Government and the Santo port supported by the Chinese Government.
A total of seven overseas shipping lines provide both container and general cargo international services to and from Vanuatu.
Electricity and Water
Unelco Suez, a subsidiary of France’s Suez is the only company providing these services. While prices are high, the services provided are reliable. A Utility Regulatory Authority Act was recently passed to introduce regulation to this rector. This has resulted in reduced tariffs introduced.
Due to the continuous increase in bio-fuel costs, Unelco has sought alternative sources to supplement its traditional means of power supply source. The blending of coconut oil and diesel has been successful in 2005 and the use of wind energy was launched in 2008. Wind energy contributed about 39% of total electricity output in Port Vila.
Recently development in the power generation has been the PERVIS Group – a US power company what has been granted acceptance to take-over as the new company to provide electricity and water services in Luganville, Santo.
As part of implementing the national Energy Road Map, the government with the support of the private sector and donor partners have seen five renewable projects in the country now in completion stage and two new ones. The projects are located in most of the provinces of Vanuatu, ultimately reflecting the government’s aim of decentralizing services to all the people of Vanuatu.