SEATTLE — American Samoa is a territory of the United States, located in the South Pacific. It is largely a traditional Polynesian economy: the portion of land that is communally owned stands at 90 percent. The economy of America Samoa is strongly linked to its top trading partner, the United States, but opportunities exist for independent growth. Here are five recent or ongoing development projects in American Samoa:
Reconstruction of the Satala Power Plant
In 2009, a massive earthquake in the Pacific generated a powerful tsunami that completely disabled the Satala power plant in Pago Pago and, with it, 60 percent of the island’s energy. The American Samoan Power Authority contracted Louis Berger to design and construct a more energy efficient power system that would resist natural disasters like earthquakes, typhoons and flooding.
The new Satala power plant opened in June 2017 and is helping American Samoa work toward its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
Small Vessel Dock in Pago Pago Harbor
Much of American Samoa’s economy is powered by tuna canneries, so it makes sense that harborside development would be a profitable economic course.
In 2011, the company Tri Marine leased a defunct cannery in Pago Pago Harbor on Tutuila Island. They refurbished the cannery and extended a pier to create a small vessel and longline dock. The dock was finished in 2015 and allows small fishing boats to offload fresh fish to be processed and/or exported.
This dock, and countless others like it, contribute to the development of small vessel fisheries and support small business activity.
SolarCity Solar Power Project
In 2016, SolarCity assembled a solar power and battery storage microgrid on the American Samoan island of Ta’u. The grid can generate 1.4 megawatts of solar energy and has 6 megawatt-hours of battery storage, thanks to several dozen Tesla Powerpacks.
According to CNBC, the new grid supplies nearly all of the power needs for the island’s 600 residents. It replaced the old diesel-powered generators and, with them, the need to import more than 109,500 gallons of diesel fuel. The new system is far cheaper and much more reliable.
Tourism Development Project
Of all the recent development projects in American Samoa, the rehabilitation of the old Rainmaker Hotel site stands to do the most to keep visitors coming back to the territory and attract new ones. The new hotel going up at the site is planned to be at least a three-and-a-half star hotel with 250 rooms at a minimum.
The project began moving forward in 2016. The hope is that it will increase American Samoa’s tourism base and, with a pair of international development companies working on the project, increase investor confidence in the region.
Water Infrastructure Projects
In 2016, the EPA awarded $8.9 million to the American Samoan Power Authority (ASPA), which provides utility services to American Samoans. ASPA is using that funding for infrastructure development that will improve drinking water quality and prevent water pollution.
The funds are being used to add a new water storage tank at Upper Pago Pago, connect new wells to existing drinking water systems, improve waterlines and extend a sewer line to Aua village.
Investment and Development Projects in American Samoa: The Takeaway
Development projects in American Samoa are really taking off, especially in the realms of infrastructure and renewable energy, but also where trade and tourism are concerned. These projects and others like them will likely increase the self-sufficiency and sustainability of American Samoa’s economy for years to come.
– Chuck Hasenauer