Apia’s 1000 cleaning warriors and the benefits of an investment roadshow

Can you feel the positive vibes after the big clean-up in the town area and the river banks of Apia last Saturday? Organisers say approximately 1000 people heard the call for action and turned up Saturday morning. 

Congratulations to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA), Ministry of Women Community and Social Development, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) for leading the effort and the volunteers who gave up 3-4 hours of their time on Saturday morning for a worthy cause.

The public response and the amount of rubbish collected has caught the eye of the MNRE and SPREP — who thankfully are already thinking long-term — in terms of future planning for the Samoa Government when other initiatives such as the 2020 Styrofoam products ban are rolled out. 

MNRE Assistant Chief Executive Officer (environment and conservation), Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, said he was very interested in the data collected.

“It is very important for us to look into this data to inform future planning, and also to look at the effectiveness of the ban on plastic that came into effect on the 30th of January. 

“Whether there is a reduction in plastic or if there is an increase, this is important information and data the Ministry will be looking at after the weighing and analysis is done next week,” he said, in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

It is perhaps still early days after the Samoa Government’s ban on single use plastic and plastic straws went into effect January 30 this year — but it would be good to get some sort of indication on where Apia and its population’s waste management practices — are currently at.

Some of the volunteers, who were interviewed by this newspaper last Saturday, said the responsibility to keep our streets in Apia clean is personal and can only start with you and me and everyone else who calls this home. 

Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) student Shon Eteuati said the rubbish they collected were disposed from people who did not put their rubbish in the bins. 

“The waste doesnt come from nowhere, people generate it through the use of products and through not properly disposing of it, so it ends up on the side of the road,” he added.

But the bigger challenge lies ahead — the ability of the local authorities to garner similar public support for such an initiative — without an incentive such as being host of the 2019 Pacific Games. 

Coincidentally, on the south coast of Upolu on Saturday, an international business and investment conference was close to wrapping up on that day. The May 23-26 Samoa Sustainable Business and Investment Showcase at the Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa — a collaboration with telecommunications company BlueSky and various local and international partners — was being marketed by the Samoa Government and the conference facilitators as the country’s first business and investment roadshow.

Minister of Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, used the opportunity offered by the conference to assure potential investors of the Government’s commitment to Public Private Partnerships. 

“Samoa’s Government remains committed towards supporting initiatives that strengthen our Public Private Partnership with the aim of stimulating economic prosperity, and employment creation for all,” he wrote in the salutations section of the conference programme booklet, which was distributed to all participants.

According to Minister Lautafi, the Samoa Sustainable Business and Investment Showcase will become an annual event on Samoa’s events calendar. Making the conference an annual event would augur well for those conference participants, who used the opportunity to network or display products, especially if they were Samoan business owners. They can looking forward to next year.

It is time to market the investment potential of Samoa to the world, and an annual business and investment conference, could perhaps be the vehicle to use to woo potential investors. 

The timing of the conference last week at the Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa could not have come at a better time for Poutasi-based jam manufacturer Cédric Holtz? He recently announced that he is selling his company Fruit Pacifique and moving to new opportunities abroad and is on the lookout for a buyer.

We look forward to the 2020 Samoa Sustainable Business and Investment Showcase and the positive effects it could have on the Samoan economy over the long-term period.

Have a lovely Monday Samoa and God bless. 

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