Financing remains one of the key challenges when it comes to building new submarine cables, with the project’s fate tied very closely to the success of financing efforts. While there are multiples options cable project owners can look at to get their projects financed, recent years have seen international development agencies (such as World Bank and Asian Development Bank) getting involved.
Here to tell us more is Emma Veve, Director, Social Development, and Public Management Division, Pacific Department of Asian Development Bank.
- Tell us more about yourself (and your organisation)
The Asian Development Bank (ADB), headquartered in Manila, Philippines, provides loans, technical assistance, grants, and equity investments to promote social and economic development in its 45 developing member countries across Asia and the Pacific. Our clients are our member governments, who are also our shareholders. In addition, we provide direct assistance to private enterprises of developing member countries through equity investments and loans. In 2016 ADB approved $17.5 billion in financing from its own resources, and a further $14 billion of partner cofinancing. This was a 18% increase on 2015 financing and a further increase is expected in 2017.
Submarine cable projects are a relatively new area of investment for ADB, and one which has developed rapidly in the Pacific. I am lucky enough to manage the division in the ADB’s Pacific Department responsible for developing and implementing these projects. To date my team has helped finance three cables in the Pacific connecting Palau , Samoa, and Tonga respectively, and we are currently developing cable projects with the Cook Islands, and Kiribati and Nauru. The small populations and geographic isolation of these Pacific island nations means cables often do not attract private investors as is typically the case in the rest of the world and so concessional financing through governments is essential to ensure modern telecommunications services are available to the population.
- In one sentence, how would you describe the state of the subsea communications industry today?
The industry is highly competitive and perhaps the only infrastructure industry where we are seeing falling prices.
- How do you see the industry evolving in the next 5 years?
The economist in me sees some shaking out of industry players – mergers, takeovers etc – while the development professional in me see enormous potential for the industry to facilitate leaps forward in access to services. Just what new technologies will be developed and how these will complement or challenge submarine cables is an unknown in the industry evolution.
- What do you think is one key challenge facing the industry today? How do you think it can be overcome?
With Governments as the key client for ADB, I see ensuring the national legislative, regulatory, and cybersecurity environments keeping pace with the ever-evolving technology and products on offer as one challenge which requires constant vigilance.
- Why are you excited to be at Submarine Networks World 2017?
I am looking forward to seeing how submarine cable projects are being financed and implemented outside the Pacific, and understanding industry perspectives on regulation and security.
Emma will be giving a presentation on financing options at this year’s pre-conference masterclass “Building the Business Case for your Subsea Cable Project” on 25th September and also speaking on the panel “Financing tomorrow’s cables” on 27th September alongside panellists from ACE Consortium, Natixis, Ireland-France Subsea Cable and Seaborn Networks.
Join her, join us!
Keen to learn more? Get in touch with the team: