The meeting was held at the Civic Centre conference hall, 7-8 January.
Desperate Imagination, the theme of the conference expands to the wider vision of a trade component of the meeting and to bring industries to Nauru.
“I must stress that the very concept of desperate imagination is not about hopelessness but about the desire to think outside the box and to help with driving the nation towards sustainability... hence attract direct foreign investment,” President Aingimea said in his closing remarks on 8 January.
President Aingimea chaired the meeting along with deputy chair and Deputy Minister Asterio Appi.
In his opening address the President said the “economy is changing”, and encouraged the heads of mission, national entities and like-minded stakeholders to work together at the national level to collate and tabulate ideas with which to present to the regional and global community, and to present them with the aim of gaining foreign direct investment from which Nauru will benefit.
Day one was dedicated to statements by the President, ministers, and deputy ministers to present their line ministries’ vision for 2020; while the heads of mission presented an overview of their respective offices and the opportunities available for assistance to the ministries and their departments. For instance, the Geneva mission sits with the European Union, hence the availability of EU opportunities and funding.
Day two was committed to the honorary consuls to present the roles of their office and the opportunities available to them in their respective countries for further assistance to the ministries.
The conference provides the platform and opportunity for HODs to connect with HOMs and engage in bilateral talks on challenges and needs for the departments.
Break out sessions with the HOMs and honorary consuls were held at the end of both meeting days to dissect the challenges and assistance sought by the departments and state owned entities.
Following the opening prayer was the singing of the national anthem and address by President Lionel Aingimea recognising that the capital generated from fisheries is maturing while phosphate mining is no longer the dominant in the fiscal landscape and revenue generated from the Regional Processing Centre continues to decline.
“These three important entities contribute to 98 per cent of the entire budget for the Republic of Nauru, and their gradual decline in purely monetary terms presents a dilemma to the nation,” President Aingimea said, posing the question of ways to ensure sustainability for Nauru, post 2020.
“Any form of investment to Nauru is to be studied for its veracity to make a lasting and positive impact on the national competence in... enhancing the quality of our peoples’ lives through human capital development; increasing our financial independence; and ensuring the longevity and continued regeneration of resources within our environment,” the President said.
President Aingimea highlighted the two industries on Nauru - primary being the extraction and collection of natural resources, hence phosphate and Ronphos; and secondary being Nauru Fisheries, Bendigo Bank, Digicel, private business Capelle, Eigigu Holdings, Nauru Post and the Regional Processing Centre.
“My challenge to this group is to embrace a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift is to break away from traditional methods on how to get things done. To change the way in which we see and do things that will benefit the nation, a nation with mostly finite resources. We must reinvent the way we seek to do business in order to attract foreign investment into the national economy.
“We need to work smarter. However, I understand that some of you may not be comfortable with the fact that we are venturing into the unknown. Let us support each other with words of encouragement. I will only say this once. I want goers and not stayers,” President Aingimea said.
An area of branching out opportunities is labour mobility of skilled operators with decades of experience that would only require the proper training and qualification to bring them up to employable standards. This prospect would provide an earning for their families as well as ease the strain on the national economy.
The President requested HOMs to put trade very high on their agendas when they return to their missions, “this is a must for the sake of the nation,” and reiterated that the government’s continued practice of social welfare, “continues to drain the national purse”.
“It is time to change how we conduct ourselves as a nation. My challenge to everyone here is to put into place the structures and processes necessary to attract all forms of foreign direct investment that will drive out of its dependence on the present industries,” President Aingimea said.
In that vein, the President stressed: enabled, trained and made in Nauru to become bywords for enduring quality in the regional and global community and marketplace.
“This is sustainability,” the President said empowering the heads of mission to make it happen.
The key Desperate Imaginations outlined in the outcome statement and Guiding Vision 2020 for the meeting include sport tourism as a viable commercial activity in the creation of major sporting events to bolster visitor numbers and generate economic activity across the business sector and general consumer spending.
Health tourism was identified as a potential commercial activity and key healthcare service provider with the vision of a ‘Pacific Health Model’ providing high standard quality health care for Nauruans as well as for the region.
The idea of a tuna cannery and processing centre was developed by the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority.
Plans to develop farming to achieve food security and reduce dependence of imported goods centres on hydroponic and aquaponic farming, and livestock farming that includes poultry, piggery and goats.
The fourth point is a water tank manufacturing plant. With the main water supply for households being stored in individual water tanks, the plant would reduce the cost of importing water tanks as well as create local employment.
Establishing an insurance service that will contribute to foreign investment plans was another vision of the line ministries.
The higher ground project which is to restore the mined out lands in the centre of the island will create land needed to build housing, development of agriculture and space for major infrastructure.
The government regards the importance of the project as the flagship strategy to combating the adverse effects of climate change and a key initiative for the survival of Nauru.
The desperate imagination for the port harbour is to see it as a sub-regional hub for major shipping activities, including trans-shipment of cargo and fishing vessels, as well as provide business for the private sector in supplies, refuelling, lodging, and recreation.
Photo Nauru Media