Switch Network Launch Event

September 29, 2022

Distinguished guests,

Colleagues and friends,

It is my pleasure to join you and share a few words at this momentous event.

The Pacific, like most small island developing states, are not only at the front line of climate change but are burdened by crushing financial burden of importing expensive fossil fuels to support their economies. For Fiji, fossil fuel imports make up one-third of Fiji’s total imports and is expected to grow even more as global geopolitical tensions persist. So, moving towards a sustainable and low carbon future, and supporting initiatives that support overall dependence on fossil fuels is an obvious way forward for Fiji.

In this regard, UNDP is pleased to be working with the Fijian Government to support transformative initiatives and trailblazing businesses such as Leaf Capital through the Blue Accelerator Grant Scheme – or BAGS for short. 
Recognizing the need to support acceleration of Fiji’s blue economy ambitions, UNDP has been supporting the Fijian Government structure in its upcoming blue bond issuances. In doing so, we realize the need to support transformative projects that have high impact and scale up potential but need financial boost to expedite implementation.

That is how we conceived the idea to develop and administer the Blue Accelerator Grant Scheme in collaboration with the Fijian Government and its Drua Incubator. We had put out a public call for funding proposals in May this year and after a rigorous and highly competitive process, Leaf Capital and its Switch Network project is one of the projects selected for grant-based impact financing from the Blue Accelerator Grant Scheme.

We envisage this project to be a catalyst for strong e-mobility uptake in Fiji and to have positive spillover impact in the maritime transport sector. We hope that in the very near future, these charging systems we see mounted on the wall here, will be part of a network of port-side charging infrastructure helping power electric boats around Fiji. 
The Switch Network Project will be a project of many firsts. It will help establish the first charging network in Fiji and the Pacific, the first electric taxi in Fiji and the Pacific, and the first customised charging infrastructure software for Fiji.  
I applaud the commercial businesses who have offered their premises to host the charging stations and to convert part of your vehicle fleet to electric taxis. Your support in this regard exemplifies how the private sector can be champions of clean, renewable, and sustainable development.

I congratulate Alex Reddaway and his team for achieving this milestone today and wish you all the best with your ever-gallant effort to help Fiji realise its e-mobility potential. I understand that these charging stations are the first of three that have already been installed in Suva with more to come in the next few months for the Suva-Nadi-Lautoka highway. UNDP looks forward to supporting this catalytic endeavour.

Vinaka vakalevu and thank you so much.