Solomon Islands had many successful industries post-independence, some have grown and become a mainstay to the economy, others have withered and become non-existent.
The boat builders of Langalanga lagoon in Malaita are well known for their wooden boats. These wooden boats are big enough to carry copra, timber, cocoa, cargo and passengers. Unfortunately for them the industry was never supported, and over time they stopped building these hand-crafted boats.
Such an industry is worth millions if supported through proper funding and perhaps technical support.
A recent research by Research and Markets state that the global boat building market is expected to grow from USD$34.76 billion in 2020 to USD$37.14 billion in 2021. This growth is said to be driven by an expected surge in outdoor and leisure activities once COVID-19 is better managed.
The Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) has been supporting indigenous Solomon Islanders with boats through the National Transport Fund (NTF) with mixed results. It would be better if the government support and build the local boat industry, not just through funding support but connecting them to international markets.
Mathew Wale, the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga stated recently that the local boat building industry in Langalanga runs a real risk of becoming non-existent because of minimal to no support by government.
“Had I been in government, I am sure the boat builders of Langalanga would have been supported and the fact that I am in opposition has made it difficult to access the funds simply because everything is being politicized,” the MP for Aoke/Langalanga said.
Politics aside, the interest in boat building has declined and if nothing is done it will join the long list of failed industries in the country.