From the exterior, the connection of a telecommunications company and the progression of communities for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) may not be immediately apparent. Take a closer look and you’ll find that with Digicel, there is direct relation to the advancement and improvement of technology such as mobile phones and social and economic development.

Most of the Digicel markets are small developing nations. In the Pacific, we are leading the way fast earning the reputation as a company that cares about its communities. We invest in our people and build our villages and societies. We believe that Digicel’s presence in each market including Samoa has and will continue to make a difference. That our success continues to link to the evolution and development of the people whom we serve in each of these island states.

Working with the communities

In the short time that Digicel has entered the Pacific and other developing island states it has made an extraordinary impact on the lives of millions. In PNG over 350 classrooms were funded with over US $17 million invested and more than 300,000 direct beneficiaries. The Digicel Foundation in Haiti has inaugurated 94 schools and on target to achieving their objective of constructing 150 schools by September 2014. In Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and Samoa, Digicel has transformed communities through the establishment and funding of organizations such as Special Olympics catering for people with disabilities, erection of schools and educational programs for the poor and disadvantaged, providing free medication and health services to rural and impoverished populations; and the investment of various sports encouraging development through rugby (including the Manu Samoa rugby team and Fiji national team), soccer, cricket and others both at the village/school grassroots level and at the international arena.

Thinking global, acting local

The 3rd International Conference of the United Nations on Small Island Developing States (UNSIDS) has presented Digicel not only with an opportunity to further support the local network of small to medium sized businesses in Samoa but culminate our efforts with key players through the SIDS Trade Village forged through partnerships with the private sector drivers such as Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) and the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

Digicel is excited to be fully engaged in the SIDS Conference and have partnered with key players to focus on two of the ‘Priority Areas’: 1) Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management and 2) Social development in SIDS, Health and NCDs, Youth and Women. In fact, it is an honour for us to announce that the Chairman of Digicel, Denis O’Brien was invited by the UN to speak at the Private Sector Partnerships Forum (PSPF) and Co-chair the High Level Leaders Dialogue with Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi on the 30th and 31st August 2014. Anticipation of Mr. O’Brien’s arrival into Apia and participation in the global meeting has pressed Digicel ‘to pull all the stops’ and unite with community organisations and government authorities.

Other events and partnerships include the UN Youth Forum with over 200 young participants from all over the world; the Ray of Hope Concert – a major charitable fundraiser for the Samoa Victims Support Group (SVSG); the official Opening Ceremony Breakfast, Business Networking Luncheon and the High Level Island Gala Night for the PSPF. Digicel has also collaborated with the Government of Samoa to provide 3,000 SIMs and free WiFi for the official conference plenary, forums and docking area for the Pacific Jewel cruise ship brought in by NZ Government to provide accommodation for meeting participants.

Disaster Preparedness of Pacific economies

At a larger scale, Digicel Pacific announced earlier this year its alliance with UNISDR to bridge the gap between technology and disaster preparedness of Pacific economies.  At the UN SIDS Conference Digicel Pacific and UNISDR will promote the need and value of business resiliency in the Pacific by jointly engaging the private sector through advocating and showcasing disaster preparedness measures. Our aim is to provide opportunity for businesses to be empowered with knowledge and understanding of the inherent risks that SIDS face, to enable better decision making to best protect business assets, secure economic productivity and continue to provide livelihoods for workers. 

Digicel Pacific and UNISDR will collaborate to raise awareness of the value of Disaster Risk Reduction measures and provide technological solutions to common disruptions to businesses caused by adverse events.

Digicel, WMO and SPREP Alliance

Earlier in August 2014, Digicel publicised its support for a global campaign to improve weather and climate services for all small island developing states. The campaign was launched on 4th August with the additional support of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The Small Islands, Weather Together campaign (www.weathertogether.org) aims to show how the small island developing states of the world can work together to improve their vital weather and climate services. 

Digicel has increasingly shown its support to SIDS by partnering with the WMO in a joint social media competition via the Weather Together website and sponsoring Smartphones as prizes. The competition will run throughout the month of August and the general public is invited to participate via www.weathertogether.org. The partnership involves two competitions which encompass content sharing amplifying the main message behind the campaign.

Finally, at the local level, Digicel’s CEO, Pepe Fiaailetoa Christian Fruean has assured the Government of Samoa and UN SIDS Office that Digicel is fully committed to the SIDS Conference and welcomes all the delegates and partner affiliates to Samoa.