From L-R: Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President; Honourable John Moffat Fugui, Solomon Islands Minister for Education; Mr Robert Jauncey, ADB’s Regional Director South Pacific Sub-regional Office and Mr Winston Thompson, USP Pro-Chancellor after the signing.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) officially signed the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Loan Agreement of US$15.4m for the development of the new Solomon Islands Campus.
The signing took place on 3 November 2016 during the University’s 83rd Council Meeting at Holiday Inn in Suva, Fiji Islands.
Representatives for the signing of the loan documents included Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President; Mr Robert Jauncey, ADB’s Regional Director South Pacific Sub-regional Office; and Honourable John Moffat Fugui, Solomon Islands Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, who represented the Solomon Islands Government (SIG).
The loan is the balance of the Multi-tranche Financing Facility (MFF) of US$19m that was approved by ADB in June 2012. Tranche one (1) loan of US$3.6m from the MFF was used for the construction of the new USP Kiribati Campus that was officially opened by the then President of Kiribati, Mr Anote Tong in November last year.
The MFF is ADB’s first highly concessional Asian Development Fund (ADF) loan to a regional education institution, backed by a sovereign guarantee. It is also USP’s first development loan.
The parties signed three (3) documents which included the Loan Agreement, Guarantee Agreement and Grant Agreement.
According to the Guarantee Agreement, which was signed by Mr Jauncey from ADB and Honourable Fugui, SIG guarantees the loan of US$15.4m.
The Grant Agreement between USP and ADB covers the use of the proceeds of a grant of US$1.5m from ADB’s Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility (CEFPF) for the construction of a solar panel photovoltaic system which will meet 75 per cent of the energy needs at the new Campus.
On behalf of the Solomon Islands Governments, Honourable John Moffat Fugui, Solomon Islands Minister for Education commended the occasion saying it was a significant one.
He acknowledged the ADB for the $1.5m grant to USP. Highlighting the significance of the signing, Hon Fugui said that access to tertiary education by the Solomon Islands population is less than 5 per cent.
“That is very low for a country, so in terms of this development, it will help us increase accessibility to tertiary education for the people of Solomon Islands,” he said
Mr Robert Jauncey said that they were pleased to be able to provide financial support to help USP with its new campus development in Honiara.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President; Honourable John Moffat Fugui, Solomon Islands Minister for Education; Mr Robert Jauncey, ADB’s Regional Director South Pacific Sub-regional Office during the signing.
“We are excited about this development just like the successful opening of USP’s Kiribati campus, which was a major effort by USP and the Kiribati Government. That was a fantastic achievement,” Mr Jauncey added.
He commented that ADB was sure that USP will demonstrate the same effort for the Solomon Islands campus.
“We are glad to be able to draw on ADB experience and USP’s expertise as well,” he stated.
Professor Rajesh Chandra said that this is clearly one of the happiest occasions as it has been a very long journey.
“In 2002, I led a delegation to Solomon Islands and there were moments when we came close to finalising the deal for the construction of the new campus, but today marks a very significant development and also strategically important because Solomon Islands has the largest land area and has the second largest student population amongst USP member countries,” he remarked.
Professor Chandra thanked the Honourable Minister for Education of the Solomon Islands for his influence and role of successive governments as they had tried to get the project up and running.
“I would like to record my appreciation to ADB and personally to Mr Jauncey as ADB has been very supportive throughout the process. This is an unusual journey for us as we did not have a loan in our method of financing and ADB had no system in funding an institution like USP. It really is quite a creative and pioneering effort on both sides,” Professor Chandra said.
He assured the Council members that USP will work very hard to ensure that all remaining work is done so that the new Solomon Islands campus can be a suitable legacy for USP's 50th Anniversary.
“That is a tough ask and a tight job, but we are all committed to delivering that. We also want to ensure that this facility, which when completed will be just over six thousand (6000) square metres, serve as a symbol of a green campus and a representation of how we can powerfully use ICT for our learning and teaching needs,” Professor Chandra said.
“The 3 faculties have already put forward their plans to offer a large number of programmes through face-to-face mode and this implies that we are working on a major development,” he added.
Professor Chandra also acknowledged the Council and Pro-Chancellor for their continuous support.
The new Solomon Islands campus will be at a site adjacent to the King George VI High School, which is around six (6) kilometres east of Honiara.
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