Welcome Remarks by the USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, on the Visit by the ADB President, Mr Takehiko Nakao, to USP’s Laucala Campus at 2.15pm Friday, 28 August 2015
His Excellency Mr Takehiko Nakao, President, Asian Development Bank and members of the ADB Delegation;
Minister of Education of Niue, Hon. Pokoa Sipeli;
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Heads and Representatives of International and Regional Organisations;
Acting Deputy Chancellor and Chair of Audit &Risk Committee;
Senior Government, statutory organisations, private sector and union representatives;
Chairs and members of Regional Campus Advisory Committees;
Senior Management, staff and students of the University;
Ladies and gentlemen;
On behalf of The University of the South Pacific I am privileged and deeply honoured to welcome Mr Takehiko Nakao, President of ADB on his first visit to Fiji and to the University. President Nakao, we are both greatly honoured and grateful that you have included a visit to our University in your packed schedule, and agreed to give an address not only to us here, but to many others throughout the region. Vinaka Vakalevu.
Let me also welcome all other dignitaries, staff and students who have graced this occasion to mark the visit of the President. USP is particularly proud to host this public lecture by President Nakao which is being streamed live to our campuses in USP’s 12 member countries, most of which are also ADB members with the exception of Niue and Tokelau. I also wish to welcome all our invited guests, staff and students at our regional campuses who will have a chance to hear and perhaps interact with the President after his address.
USP and ADB
Ladies and gentlemen, USP’s partnership with ADB started in 2009 when the Government of India provided the University a grant of US$1m through ADB for Regional Technical Assistance (RETA) on The Creation of the Pacific Information Superhighway with The University of the South Pacific Network.
This project helped expand USP’s ICT network across its regional campuses through the installation of the i-Direct system.
The i-Direct system has enhanced the performance and connectivity of USPNet, resulting in enhanced learning and teaching across USP’s campuses. It remains the satellite platform for USP until now, with USP having upgraded it as required, demonstrating our practice and capacity to sustain our operations and maintain our equipment and systems.
Another key output of the project involved curriculum alignment and conversion of courses for on-line and mixed mode delivery. The third element involved the development of strategic partnerships with leading Indian academic institutions.
The most important benefit that this Technical Assistance provided to the University was an opportunity to develop a soft loan proposal in consultation with ADB for improving access to tertiary education in the Pacific through the development of two new campuses and improved connectivity of regional campuses. The proposal finally resulted in the approval of a soft loan of US$19m from ADB’s multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for the Higher Education in the Pacific Investment Programme in mid-2012.
I understand from ADB officials that it is the first ever loan provided by ADB to a regional higher education institution. We are proud of the confidence in and endorsement given by ADB to USP’s financial position and governance structures through this loan.
I am extremely pleased to say that under the first tranche loan, the construction of the new USP campus in Tarawa, Kiribati will be completed by the end of next month and will be officially opened by His Excellency, the President of Kiribati, on 3rd November 2015. This is indeed a significant and proud accomplishment of the University as well as ADB.
The work on the second tranche loan for the development of a new campus in the Solomon Islands has been slightly delayed but let me assure you Mr. President that with the Government of Solomon Islands finalising an alternative site for the new campus in Honiara, we will now be able to proceed with the project speedily.
Working together with ADB and Government of Solomon Islands, we intend to complete all project preparatory work by the end of this year to ensure that the project loan documents can be formally submitted for your consideration, Mr. President, by the second quarter of 2016.
Mr. President, we feel and ADB and USP are natural partners in the development of the Pacific Islands given our respective roles. USP is a central and vital regional agency in the promotion and facilitation of regional co-operation and integration with its sister CROP agencies. We look forward to fostering a continued and mutually beneficial engagement with ADB for further investments not only for capital development work but to possibly tap as well, technical assistance grants for collaborative projects and research work in areas such as climate change, renewable energy and economic modeling, to name a few areas.
Let me at this point thank the Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department Mr. Xianbin Yao and his staff in Manila and the Regional Director Mr. Robert Jauncy and his team in Suva for the tremendous support and cooperation they have been providing to me and my staff.
The University of the South Pacific
Ladies and gentlemen, USP’s Strategic Plan 2013 – 2018 is ‘committed to the transformation of USP from a good to an excellent university’, a goal that we are all striving to achieve by the end of the Plan period which will coincide with USP’s 50th anniversary. We are currently in the mid-Plan period but preliminary indications are that key targets set out in the seven (7) Priority Areas of the Plan are on track to be met by the end of the Plan period.
USP’s current enrolment is over 29,500 students in our 14 campuses in 12 countries scattered over 33 million Km2. Enrolment has been growing rapidly reflecting strong demand for tertiary education and we will easily surpass our 2018 target of 33,000 before then. Over the last 47 years the University has produced over 44,000 Alumni, most of who have done well in their respective fields including as political leaders of their countries, professionals in regional and international organisations, and increasingly as entrepreneurs. We are proud that the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands and the Prime Minister of Tonga are our alumni, and that many of the Ministers in all our countries are USP alumni.
As the premier University of the region and an exemplar for tertiary education, we have concentrated in recent years on improving our quality and getting international accreditation which has placed us above the other tertiary institutions in the region. We are also upgrading our regional campuses, enhancing our research work, and improving our facilities and ICT connectivity.
ADB and the University both share the common objective of increasing access to higher education. Further, we are also very supportive of further and more rapid development of ICTs given the centrality of ICTs to knowledge economies and society with which PICS have to compete. ICTs are widely seen as game-changing and transformative, and both ADB and USP can make substantial further contributions in this area. As the lead CROP agency for ICTs, USP will need to work even more closely together with ADB for the promotion of greater ICT development in the region.
Introduction of ADB President, Mr. Takehiko Nakao
Ladies and gentlemen, this afternoon’s gathering is more for us to hear from the President of ADB, Mr Takehiko Nakao, on initiatives and thinking within ADB and other multi-lateral financial institutions and organisations of how opportunities that arise from the growth experienced in Asia and other areas of the global economy can be tapped and harnessed for the benefit of the Pacific region. I am honoured to introduce the President of ADB to you all.
• President Takehiko Nakao holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Tokyo and a Master of Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.
• In a career spanning more than three decades, Mr Nakao has gained extensive experience in international finance and development. He has held senior positions in the Ministry of Finance in Japan, which he joined in 1978, including Director-General of the International Bureau, where he fostered close ties with leading figures in the Asia-Pacific region, and G20 nations.
• He was assigned as Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C., between 2005 and 2007, and from 1994 to 1997 served as economist and advisor at the International Monetary Fund.
• President Nakao has published books and numerous papers on financial and economic issues, and in 2010 and 2011 was a Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo.
• Before joining ADB, Mr Nakao was the Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs at the Ministry of Finance of Japan.
• Mr. Nakao was elected President of the Asian Development Bank and Chairperson of the ADB’s Board of Directors in 2013 and assumed office in April that year.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen present here in Laucala Campus this afternoon and those joining us via live streaming from our campuses in the region, I now have great pleasure in inviting the President of the Asian Development Bank, Mr Takehiko Nakao, to deliver his lecture.