On behalf of the Solomon Islands Government, the Minister for Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration (MCILI) and the Minister for Communication and Aviation (MCA) today launched the county’s first-ever National E-commerce Strategy (NECS), after it was approved by the cabinet in March 2023. The NECS was jointly developed by the MCILI and MCA, funded by the Australian Government under the Solomon Islands-Australia Partnership, with technical support from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
The Strategy identifies priority high-impact projects and includes a clear roadmap for implementation. It aims to improve the lives of Solomon Islanders by creating jobs, increasing economic growth, and enhancing trade across sectors and industries.
The Honourable Mr. Frederick Kologeto, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration of the Solomon Islands, said today: “With our people spread across many islands, we see immense potential for e-commerce to support the growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. It reduces business transaction costs and makes it easier to start and operate a new business. It encourages financial inclusion and strengthens the competitiveness of our exports.”
More than 160 stakeholders from the government, private sector, academia, and community groups were involved in the design of the Strategy. This wide consultation delivered a practical set of activities to improve the business, policy and regulatory environment for the growth of e-commerce and the digital economy in the country.
The Australian High Commissioner, Rod Hilton, said: "The first National E-commerce Strategy for Solomon Islands will support jobs and economic growth across all provinces. Since I arrived in Solomon Islands, I have heard from many business owners and Government officials how better connectivity and options to sell online would allow them to grow their businesses and support their communities. Australia is proud to stand with the Solomon Islands Government in delivering this strategy, funded under the Solomon Islands-Australia economic partnership.”
UNCDF Regional Lead, Neha Mehta said: “E-commerce in particular holds significant potential in the Solomon Islands, where people and businesses are geographically dispersed and reaching new customers can be challenging. Through e-commerce, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes can access new domestic, regional and international markets. This is especially important for small businesses and families living in rural areas, far from major markets or trade corridors.”
UNCDF today announced support to the government’s implementation team to set up an Innovation Fund. The fund will provide seed funding to young, local entrepreneurs and support the development of innovative solutions that address the pressing priorities identified in the national e-commerce strategy.
Added UNCTAD Regional Coordinator, Dominic Leong: “This is absolutely the right time to launch a National E-commerce Strategy and an Innovation Fund to tap into the benefits of online commerce and digital trade. I congratulate the Solomon Islands Government on this important milestone. Collaboration and partnerships are critical to building inclusive digital economies that serve all people, including women, youth and marginalized groups."
The implementation of the National E-commerce Strategy will be driven by a dedicated team under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration. It will focus on priority areas that have been identified by the National E-commerce Steering Committee, which has wide representation from various government ministries.
The strategy supports the implementation of the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap, endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Island Trade Ministers in August 2021. The work of UNCDF and UNCTAD in Solomon Islands is delivered through the Pacific Digital Economy Programme, supported by the Government of Australia.