Islands Business Report: Corruption & Samoa’s bright future
Trekking up to the summit of Mount Vaea to view the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson, travelling author Thomas H. Booth was struck by the similarity of Samoa across the ages.
“How pleased he would be to see that so much of the essence of Samoan life is now as it was then,” he said.
Perhaps not for much longer.
Gaining independence on January 1, 1962, Samoa enters its first half century with an expanding economy, admirably strong culture and, according to international experts, excellent prospects.
World Bank data puts the local economy at more than half a billion US dollars. Foreign debt is down from a high of 91 percent in the early 1990s, to a much more manageable 56%, and businesses have recovered from the devastating cyclones to reclaim a near two thirds share of the economy.
Literacy is at 99% and an average life lasts a respectable 72 years, up from earlier averages, showing improvements among some 180,000 residents.
Unemployment is said to be at just five percent of the labour force, lower than in most “developed” countries like donor partners Australia and New Zealand.