The Suava Bay Economic Growth Center Project in North Malaita is aimed at enabling full and equitable participation of resource owners in their endeavor for rural development and sustainable livelihoods, says Permanent Secretary of Commerce, Barnabas Anga.

Mr Anga, on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of the national government with resource owners of the Kwana'ai Tribe of Suava Bay and the Malaita Provincial Government to enable government officials' carryout groundwork for the design of the project.

Mr Anga said that the project, once fully operational, will provide economic opportunities the people in the Northern Region, Malaita Province and Solomon Islands as a whole.

Mr Anga added that an immediate effect would be increased employment, which is welcoming in view of the high rate of urban migration by unemployed and marginalized citizens in other parts of Malaita.

He added that the National Government has recognised and acknowledged the cooperation from resource owners through the Kwana'ai Board of Trustees for their understanding and cooperation in pursuing the project.

Mr Anga said that the ceremony marks the spirit and level of consultation, coordination and cooperation amongst the government, resource owners and other partners which will pave the way forward for the planning and implementation of the subsequent phases of the project.

"The essence of our ceremony and gathering is a degree of cooperation and frankness of our resource owners among our partners during past consultations," Mr Anga said. "I commend leaders of the Kwana'ai Board of Trustees for demonstrating this notion and degree of maturity during our consultations and dialogue".

Mr Anga said the Government is keen to see all partners in project share experiences and lessons learnt over the years to enable better planning and meaningful development of Malaita Province.

"We need plans that will maximize participation of our people for the advancement of our province and country," he added.

Hundreds of tribal resource owners witnessed the ceremony on Friday. Many were told that Malaita has a lot of potential development projects but resource owners hardly create opportunities for meaningful dialogue among partners and stakeholders for better exploration and management of their resources.

For this reason, Mr Anga said the national government is proud and pleased with the courage and commitment of resource owners in the Suava Bay region for seeing the importance of opening up their resources for development.

Vice Chairman of the Kwana'ai Board of Trustees said they want their site to be developed so that services could be made available not only to their people but also to northern region.

"With the development of the new economic growth centre it would make things easier for people in the northern region of Malaita," he said.

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