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Overview

Although significant digital infrastructure investments were made in several Pacific Small Island Developing States, the national governments of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands raised the bar and set out to increase digital connectivity across the region by 2030. Scaling up the region’s digital economies is a transformative measure that will impact millions, reach vulnerable communities, and enhance women’s access to basic services—particularly when it comes to COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Increased investments in core digital infrastructure and adjacent devices, tools, and platforms accelerates SDG achievement by financing innovative and contextually sound solutions. Development approaches identify the root causes of market dysfunction and address constraints by narrowing the digital divide, involving rural communities and micro, small, and medium business owners in launching targeted solutions, strengthening relationships between market actors, and rolling out inclusive digital strategies and tools.

 

Fund scope

The promise of digital technologies in Pacific Island states goes beyond payments to encompass all types of digital and mobile financial services. Previous initiatives in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu addressed the high cost of innovative technologies, cash-intensive problems related to agent-led remittance business models, and unaffordability of operational and compliance measures. Varied results were achieved. This time, fintech and mobile phone technologies (e.g., mobile money, digital currencies, blockchain, and cloud platforms) are the focus as they have the capacity to significantly reduce the cost of financial services, ensure transactional transparency (including remittance transfers), help micro-small-medium entrepreneurs and business owners find their footing, and level the socio-economic landscape for vulnerable and marginalized people—especially rural women.

At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, early phases of the Pacific Digital Economy Programme used digital technology to create new opportunities for digital financial service operators to accelerate and enhance financial inclusion despite social distancing and containment measures. Services have, and continue to, enable contactless and cashless transactions like QR merchant payments and tap-and-pay solutions. Despite traction, the challenge is the underutilization of services, lack of products for low-income populations, and poor last-mile coverage continue to prevent stakeholders from realizing the full potential of financial inclusion across the Pacific region.

Large parts of the Pacific remain unbanked and are at risk of being excluded from the rapidly developing global digital economy and related opportunities. Given that significant investments were made in the core digital infrastructures of participating countries (e.g., under-sea fibre optic cables), programme stakeholders are doubling down to establish and increase digital connectivity across the region. Such action has the potential to hit SDG targets and affect the lives of Pacific Islanders by:

  • Using digital fintech services and tools as accelerators and enablers of access to (and delivery of) basic services for excluded and vulnerable populations.
  • Leveraging digitization as a central solution for overcoming lack of infrastructure and covering vast distances and/or introducing access to isolated areas.
  • Cutting the costs of uncertainty, asymmetries of information, and securitization of transaction information amongst a small number of widely dispersed players.
  • Breaking down barriers that hamper access to information, communication, learning, and exchange.

In this new phase of programming digital innovation is treated as a source of solutions that can be turned into business models to improve livelihoods, creating space for inclusivity, and improving management transparency and government accountability.

Strategic framework and theory of change

Pacific Digital Economy Programme partners are creating inclusive digital economies by addressing specific market constraints and narrowing the digital divide to impact the lives of all Pacific Islanders. The focus is first on reaching rural communities, women, rural labour mobility employees, and micro/small/medium entrepreneurs through the application of a market development approach where programmers better understand select market systems and apply contextually sound solutions that address underlying market dysfunctions and lead to improved efficiencies, effectiveness, and sustainability.

The programme approach in all five countries leverages the roles of current actors in the marketplace, supporting them to continue with what works or incentivizing them to change behaviour. It is an approach that draws on lessons learned from other UNCDF programmes that achieved change by applying market development practices and using knowledge gained from a decade’s worth of activities in the Pacific. Strengthening systems and relationships between market and sector actors is meant to de-risk new business models, make digital solutions more inclusive, and reduce the digital divide.

The programmatic theory of change covers five years of interventions that will be implemented in a phased manner. Because the inception phase takes place in the first two years a solid foundation will be established and used to build more complex programming activities. All action requires buy-in from public and private sector stakeholders. Activities are grouped into four separate workstreams:

  1. Enabling policy and regulatory environment.
  2. Open digital payments ecosystem.
  3. Inclusive innovation.
  4. Empowered customers.

Outputs and outcomes under each workstream influence stakeholders and help drive the expansion of digital economies in the Pacific—be it through mobile network operators, universities, banks, insurance providers, or FinTech firms. On the government side, support will be provided to officials and representatives to ensure policies and regulatory frameworks are in place and allow for market development. Additionally, customers are slated to receive information and confidence to use new digital products and services.

Investment Committee

Comprised of representatives from the United Nations, donors, the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS), and other stakeholders, the committee acts as the management and/or programme Board. Investment Committee members ensure implementation and accountability for the project and oversee selected regional activities. They also provide guidance and strategic direction to programme partners, approves the annual work plan (including budgets), and makes recommendations to the UNCDF Executive Secretary on projects, investments, and efficient use of resources.

Steering Committee

Composed of senior leadership from all implementing organizations and UNCDF country lead partners, the Steering Committee monitors project performance to keep the programme on course.

Project Management Team

Responsible for the day-today management of project implementation and drives the overall performance of the project. Typically made up of a team of resource personnel from all project implementing partners, the project team reports to the project steering committee, which governs/oversees project in terms of scope, budget, and timelines.

Administrative Agent

Recipient Organizations receive funds through the Administrative Agent, the MPTF Office. The Administrative Agent is responsible for the receipt, administration and management of contributions from donors, disbursement of funds to Recipient Organizations, and consolidation and dissemination of progress reports to donors.  

Participating UN Organizations

Programme implementation is the responsibility of each Participating UN Organization. Each organization is programmatically and financially responsible for resources received.

Focus on impact and results

Programme stakeholders implement projects in close cooperation with national and international development leaders and private sector partners to build momentun and achieve sustainable results. Cross-cutting issues are streamlined across all programme initiatives. 

In this section you will find the latest editions of reports that detail Fund performance and results. 

Recent Documents

This tab shows only recent documents relevant at the Fund level. To see more documents at both the fund and project level go to the Document Center.

Key Figures
Funding Status
Participating Organizations are required to submit final year-end expenditures by April 30 in the following year; Interim expenditure figures are submitted on a voluntary basis and therefore current year figures are not final until the year-end expenditures have been submitted.
Total as of
Values in US$
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Funds with Administrative Agent
Contributions from Donors 5,417,073  
Interest and Investment Income (from Fund) 0  
Interest (from Participating Organizations) 0  
Total source of funds   5,417,073
Transferred to Participating Organizations 3,329,873  
Refunds from Participating Organizations 0  
Administrative Agent Fee 54,171  
Direct Cost 0  
Bank Charges 23  
Total use of funds   3,384,066
Balance with Administrative Agent   2,033,007
As a percentage of deposits   37.5%
Funds with Participating Organizations
Transfers to Participation Organizations 3,329,873  
Total resources   3,329,873
Participating Organizations' Expenditure 116,017  
Refunds from Participating Organizations 0  
Total expenses     116,017
Balance with Participating Organizations   3,213,856
As a percentage of transfers   96.5%
Total Balance of Funds   5,246,863
As a percentage of deposits   96.9%
Delivery Analysis
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Contributions
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Projects
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Contacts

For Policy and Programme Issues

UNDP Pacific Office, Fiji www.pfip.org

  • Krishnan NarasimhanUNCDF Deputy Programme Manager, E-mail: krishnan.narasimhan@uncdf.org 
  • Judith Karl, UNCDF Executive Director, E-mail: judith.karl@uncdf.org

 

For Fund Administrative Agent Issues

Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF Office)

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