Richard Butler | Exclusive Report By PACIFIC TRADE INVEST | 30th APRIL, 2024

“Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand (PTI NZ) recently embarked on a rewarding visit to Vanuatu, a nation brimming with potential for inward investment across various sectors.”

Over a span of three weeks in the national capital, Port Vila, PTI NZ Investment Manager, Rohan Parekh, met with dozens of businesspeople, government officials and a range of stakeholders, to strengthen existing relationships and establish new ones with both the government and private sector, laying the groundwork for future collaborations and fresh investment endeavours.

Meetings with a swathe of business categories, ranging from technology to agribusiness and renewable energy to waste management, while also prioritising meetings with women-led businesses, of which there are encouragingly growing numbers, proved extremely useful. Among these business categories, four clearly stood out as having the highest potential with matching interest among investors. These were telecommunications and fintech; waste management; health care and agribusiness.

Telecom and fintech: Navigating the digital frontier
The growing digital landscape of Vanuatu offers numerous investment opportunities, especially in the telecom and fintech sectors. Recognising the accelerating global trend towards digitalisation, PTI NZ will support the country’s efforts in telecommunications infrastructure, while fostering digital financial technology innovation in the region.

To emphasise untapped market demand and the supportive regulatory environment conducive to investment, a series of in-person meetings and presentations for a visiting investor were delivered, showcasing the country’s potential as a prime hub for digital transformation. The investor, who accompanied PTI NZ on this mission, connected with Vanuatu’s telecom sector.

This year’s Pacific Islands Telecom Association (PITA) annual conference will be hosted by Vanuatu, further underlining the country’s commitment to advance their digital landscape through investment opportunities. The accompanying investor has announced a major sponsorship of the conference this year.

Waste management: Transforming challenges into opportunities
Amid growing environmental concerns, waste management emerges as a pressing issue in Vanuatu. However, with challenges come opportunities for innovative solutions and sustainable practices. Recognising the need for investments to help address some the challenges to combat waste disposal, fruitful discussions took place with officials from the departments of energy and climate change on waste management infrastructure and technologies.

By promoting initiatives that prioritise environmental sustainability and resource efficiency, PTI NZ aims to catalyse investments that contribute to a cleaner, greener future for Vanuatu. A prospective investor from both New Zealand and India were introduced to the opportunity via virtual meetings with government officials.

Health care: Bridging gaps in access and quality with impact investment
Access to quality health care remains a paramount concern in Vanuatu, underscoring the need for investments to bolster healthcare infrastructure and services. During its visit, PTI NZ delved into the intricacies of Vanuatu’s healthcare landscape, to understand gaps in skilled personnel, equipment maintenance, and critical healthcare procedures.

PTI NZ teamed up with a New Zealand-based healthcare investor whom they’ve worked with before, to make health care in Vanuatu even better. Their goal is to improve how health care is delivered and help local healthcare workers become more skilled. PTI NZ organised meetings between this healthcare provider, Vanuatu’s health authorities, and a private healthcare company, to move this impact investment project forward.

Agribusiness: Nurturing sustainable development
In line with its commitment to fostering inclusive growth, PTI NZ explored opportunities for social impact investment and agribusiness development in Vanuatu. Recognising the potential of these sectors to drive sustainable development and empower local communities, PTI NZ engaged with stakeholders to identify investment opportunities that align with Vanuatu’s development priorities. From promoting sustainable agricultural practices to supporting initiatives that address social challenges, PTI NZ aims to catalyse investments that create lasting positive impacts in Vanuatu.

Challenges and recommendations: Paving the way for progress
Despite the abundance of opportunities, Vanuatu faces challenges that warrant concerted efforts and strategic interventions. Bureaucratic delays, infrastructure limitations, climatic disasters, and dependence on tourism are among the key challenges that hinder investment progress in the country. PTI NZ recognises the need for collaborative solutions that involve government support, streamlined processes, and active engagement with foreign investors. By advocating for policy reforms, fostering partnerships, and leveraging its expertise, PTI NZ will endeavour to unlock Vanuatu’s full potential for sustainable growth and development.

Charting a course for prosperity
As PTI NZ concluded its successful visit to Vanuatu, the journey towards realising the country’s investment potential has only just begun. CEO of Vanuatu Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (VFIPA), Raymond Vuti, said, “Through PTI NZ’s network of global investors, more than 10 international companies have been introduced to VFIPA via virtual discussions, including one real investor visiting Vanuatu. The VFIPA team was so glad to have this investor and accompany him to key potential sectors of interest.”

Through strategic collaborations, targeted investments, and a shared commitment to sustainable development, PTI NZ envisions a future where Vanuatu emerges as a beacon of economic prosperity, social inclusivity, and environmental stewardship. By harnessing the collective efforts of stakeholders and embracing innovation, Vanuatu has the opportunity to chart a course towards a brighter, more resilient future for generations to come.