(TCSI): The Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) has partnered with local and international partners to initiate the Solomon Islands Digital Marketplace (COVID-19 Response & Recovery) Project.
As part of the digital transformation project, the country’s largest food wholesaler and retailer, Bulk Shop, will have its online market place capability and supply chain logistics enabled.
A second initiative under the project will target the development of an online marketplace App and web-based business portal using youth innovation and ingenuity.
One of the key initiatives of project will be to allow customers to shop online through their mobile phone applications (App) and web-interfaces, supported by digital payments and cash on delivery modalities.
Although the project itself is framed as a COVID-19 Response and Recovery measure, the main idea behind the project is to allow the continuity of economic activities in case of a lock down due to COVID-19 or similar future events such as natural disasters.
The digital marketplace will function as an additional lifeline to allow market vendors to continue their business and distribute their products and other commodities to customers during the COVID-19 crisis, utilizing digital technology and e-services.
It enables commodity supply chain stores and farmers to directly interact with customers, and to link farmers to market vendors and supply chain stores through an online App and Web services that will be developed locally.
The goal is to allow farmers, market vendors and SME operations as well as businesses categorized as essentials, to continue operations in the event of total lockdown or natural disasters in Solomon Islands.
The initiative is in line with CBSI’s objective 1 of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020, that is to “Amplify the reach and quality of digital finance channels” and sub section 1.5 to “Promote digital payments among large private sector employers and associations reaching smaller employers, and in business-to-business payments”.
The partnership is significant as it provides the building blocks necessary for developing a digital economy in the Solomon Islands, even after the COVID-19 pandemic period. Importantly, the initiative is in line with the broader commitment and currently ongoing initiatives of UNDP and UNCDF in supporting digital transformation and expansion of e-services in Solomon Islands.
Moreover, it contributes to the aim of empowering and fostering the engagement, entrepreneurship and creativity of young men and women who will proactively contribute to the country’s sustainable development aspirations and build resilience to crises such as COVID19.
This project, a first of its kind in Solomon Islands, is being implemented under the overall supervision of CBSI and jointly funded by UNCDF-FIP and UNDP. It is part of a joint effort of UNDP-UNCDF-UN Women and ILO in Solomon Islands, funded through the United Nations (UN) COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF).
Established by the UN Secretary General as well as the Government of Australia through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the project aims to support low-middle income programme countries in overcoming the negative social-economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.