According to a recent article in Gulf Business, “Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company Masdar has announced that it has began construction on four new UAE-funded solar power projects in the Pacific Island countries.
These solar power projects, in Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, are financed through the $50 million UAE-Pacific partnership Fund under the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).” Although this isn’t the largest renewable energy system project in the Pacific, what is notable is that this comes from the UAE and not from traditional investment partners in the US, EU, Australia or China.
Development funds, particularly from OECD economies have been used as debt collatoral to enhance the GDP of large economies as well as the assets and revenues of corporate private investment. Generally, it is through the building of infrastructure that the large economies have been able to wield a tremendous amount of bully power on developing countries.
We have yet to see whether the ADFD, as well as the recently announced China-led Asian Infrastucture Investment Bank (AIIB), will follow the same route as the neoliberal Asian Development Bank (ADB). At this time when there is global competition between the BRICS developing economies and the traditional OECD economies to write the rules for trade and investment for developing countries (the 2015 Millennium Development Goals), should we be encouraging development projects led by developing countries, not only because it alters the flow of capital away from the previously unipolar bully-power led by the US/Wall St. investment regime, but also because it provides us with the much needed opportunity for small developing economies to rewrite the rules of global trade and investment?
This may be a good time to bring up a discussion as to what some of the fundamentals are that need to be addressed as we rethink and renew Oceania, and these are infrastructure-based fundamentals through which Oceania and the rest of the world communicate and participate. Energy, communication, trade, migration, transportation, access to medicines, food, water, human and ecological rights, etc.
Oceania–like other regions–has the valuable equity (that may or may not be currently accounted for), that can be used to leverage trade benefits that meaningfully provide for infrastructural demands.
The problem is that historically, the value of our equity has been determined by the vultures of Wall St commodity pricing where small island economies could either take it or leave it, resulting in a situation where islands would have to compete for the crappiest deals.
In rethinking and renewing Oceania, I wonder if the first step is to begin looking at how best to value our equity and to regulate it so that it provides for the customary rightsholders first, and then be managed and invested in infrastructure technologies that allows us to maximize all our development needs, structurally in line with our own value systems.
Although I do not know the details of this agreement with the UAE, if competitively priced renewable energy systems can provide the development needs for Oceania, while allowing us to move away from the dominant economies who use oil to bully small economies, then it seems to me that this is a really good time to begin to explore how we can revalue our equity according to our needs.