Vanuatu Digital Marketplaces Dialogue Communiqué

Australia-Pacific Connections for a Digital Future
Pacific Connect Network Dialogue

Digital Marketplace and Online Services
15-16 July 2019, Port Vila, Vanuatu


1. We, the participants of the Pacific Connect Network Dialogue on Digital Marketplace and Online services, met on 15 – 16 July 2019 in Port Vila, Vanuatu at the invitation of the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP) with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

2. We would like to thank the Australian High Commissioner, Ms Jenny Da Rin for her continued support and for her inspiring words at the Welcome Dinner.

3. We also thank Francis Herman OAM and Ian Young AO for their skilful facilitation of the sessions and keynote speaker Ben Kealy, CEO, Digicel for his informative presentation and participation in an informal pitch session which set the tone for action.

4. We congratulate the organisers on assembling an impressive group of participants from Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Australia. Participants had diverse backgrounds and experiences across a range of sectors, including, primary healthcare, health policy and reform, financial technology, telecommunications, marketing and advertising, online marketplaces, software development, entrepreneurship, storytelling and social impact.

5. We applaud Australia’s step-up in engagement with the Pacific and its commitment to build stronger, long-lasting relationships with Pacific Island nations. We believe that Pacific Connect and the ‘Second Track’ process offer opportunities to collaborate and build personal rapport in an informal, consultative environment that encourages positive, fresh thinking and a personal interest in achieving practical results.

6. We acknowledge that people must have a reason to connect and stay connected in order to build enduring relationships. We think that
translating ideas into concrete projects is the best way to achieve this. We are inspired by the success of previous Pacific Connect Dialogues and projects, as they demonstrate what can be achieved through sustained collaboration.

7. We agree that digital technologies play an increasingly important role in people’s lives and have the potential to transform the livelihoods of Pacific communities.

8. We believe the Dialogue met our expectations in terms of topics of importance to the Pacific, providing a forum for open and honest discussion, expanding our networks and contacts and as an enabler for developing joint tangible projects to take forward. This was already apparent in the dialogue and afterwards.

9. We considered several areas for action which Dialogue participants could pursue collectively or in subgroups and have slated the following four projects for action:

a. Vanuatu Finds – Online marketplace;
b. Online Symptom Checker – Better access to healthcare and information;
c. Yumi Wan Women Advisory Network – Connecting and supporting Businesswomen (Facebook page has already been established);
d. Behavioural change for social change – educational support for youth.

10. We thank Ben Kealy and Francis Herman for their in-kind support for our projects going forward. In particular, we thank Digicel for:

  • Installing wi-fi in the Haus of Handicraft in Port Vila; and
  • Offering to host the Yumi Wan group meetings at their office.

11. We will develop these ideas and opportunities through further meetings, ICDP’s Slack forum and other online platforms. We appreciate the importance of clear objectives and firm timelines and will mobilise existing resources and adapt best international practice where possible. While not every idea from the Dialogue may come to fruition, we hope that the time and effort spent on their development will strengthen our personal links and form a foundation of longer-term relationships.

12. We welcome the opportunity to participate in the Pacific Connect Ideas Exchange, planned for Sydney, Australia on 18-19 September 2019, and look forward to forming closer bonds with other members of the fast-growing Pacific Connect Community.