Credits ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Published on July 8, 2024

Tamana's Digital Leap: The Human-Centric Approach of the Smart Island Project

In a world rapidly evolving through digital advancements, remote and isolated locations often grapple with unique challenges to keep pace. However, a ground-breaking initiative on Tamana Island, Kiribati, is rewriting this narrative. With slightly more than five years until 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is increasing attention towards new initiatives to advance the SDGs and ensure these populations are included. 

A new initiative on Tamana Island, Kiribati, is trailblazing the way to transform this narrative by pioneering a path toward digital inclusivity and human-centred development. The Smart Island Project is a joint UN programme by the Joint SDG Fund led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Digital Transformation Office under the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology (MICT).

Humanizing the Digital Divide

At its heart, the Smart Island Project seeks to humanize the digital divide by transforming Tamana into a 'Smart Island.' It harnesses the power of technology to enhance community resilience and improve the quality of life for its residents. The project zooms in on key areas - education, healthcare, finance, and environmental sustainability, where digital intervention can make a significant difference.

One of the major hurdles the Tamana community faces is the lack of reliable broadband internet connectivity. Recognizing this, the project seeks to expand existing Wi-Fi hotspots. This means that residents can gain access to the digital world in places they frequent, such as schools, health centres, and airports.

Digital Literacy: A Community Affair

The Smart Island Project understands that providing access is just the first step. To truly bridge the digital divide, it's essential to ensure that residents are equipped with the skills to navigate the digital landscape. A comprehensive digital literacy program, designed with Tamana's residents in mind, is being developed. This program will not only teach essential digital skills but also foster a community-wide understanding of the benefits of digital services.


ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific


Simplifying Finances with Digital Solutions

Financial transactions have long posed a significant challenge for Tamana's residents. To tackle this, the project is facilitating the launch of QM Wallet, a digital wallet that will empower residents to carry out swift transactions. This innovative solution is set to encourage a shift from traditional to digital mindsets, simplifying financial management for the island community. 

Transforming Healthcare and Education

The project's vision extends to healthcare and education, two sectors that are fundamental to community well-being. The project is forging partnerships with the Ministry of Health to establish a Virtual Consultation System and with UNESCO and KTC to roll out Online Education. These initiatives aim to bring healthcare and educational resources to the residents' fingertips, effectively overcoming geographical constraints.

Weather Forecasting for Community Resilience

The Smart Island Project also addresses the community's need for a reliable weather forecasting system. In partnership with the Kiribati Meteorological Office, the project aims to develop a weather app. This tool will provide accurate forecasts and contribute to disaster risk mitigation, enhancing the community's resilience to climate change.

Collaboration: The Heart of Sustainability

The Smart Island Project is more than just a technological initiative. It is a collaborative journey involving government organizations, local communities, technology experts, and key representatives from various sectors. The project's success rests on continuous monitoring, evaluation, and training, ensuring that the initiatives are not only effective but also sustainable beyond the project timeline.

Moreover, the Smart Island Project is a beacon of hope for remote islands. It stands as a testament that geographical challenges can be overcome with tailored technological solutions, fostering a culture of digital literacy and inclusivity.

As a pioneering initiative, the Smart Island Project is set to form a framework for the Kiribati Government to roll out similar initiatives in other outer islands, instigating a wave of digital transformation across the nation. As this journey progresses, the people of Tamana eagerly await to see how digital inclusion can strengthen their community and boost their development.


Originally written by the ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific



All joint programs of the Joint SDG Fund are led by UN Resident Coordinators and implemented by the agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations development system. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.