by Juanita Nonwo – EM TV Online
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Papua New Guinea is beginning to develop into a rapidly growing industry.
One can only look at the active involvement of ordinary PNG citizens and businesses that have taken the opportunity presented by ICT through various social media channels such as Facebook which has a total of 350,000 users as of 2015.
This demonstrates how Papua New Guineans have recognised the use of ICT and the abundant opportunities that can be derived from it.
In a recent media release from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this week, PNG’s National Parliament House along with the Bougainville House of Representatives will now have an ICT upgrade.
This follows a visit from experts from the United Nations who were in the country to provide technical and strategic advice as an initiative of UNDP’s larger work on strengthening Parliaments around the world as an institution of governance.
The visiting senior advisors, Gerry Kessell-Haak (New Zealand) and Richard Coombe (Scotland) visited Port Moresby and Buka, meeting up with the parliamentary staff, reviewing and assessing the current ICT infrastructure in place, and conducting meetings with staff about their job requirements.
Bougainville’s House of Representatives’ Deputy Speaker, Hon. Francesca Semoso, stated that an improved ICT network for the Bougainville House of Representatives, will positively impact the conduct of Parliamentary business by Members and further strengthen inter–parliamentary communication with other Parliaments that are part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
“Any assistance given to improve ICT infrastructure and processes in Parliament will assist in achieving the Speaker’s Hon. Theo Zurenuoc’s vision to modernize Parliament”, commented PNG’s Acting Speaker Hon. Aide Ganasi, who expressed his gratitude for the work and efforts UNDP has placed in facilitating this exercise.
Also present during this event was UN’s Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Roy Trivedy, who stated that ICT provides critical tools for building strong, effective parliaments that are able to advance inclusive and sustainable human development.
“UNDP is happy to partner with the Government of PNG and the Bougainville House of Representatives to use its best knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the country. This support will assist the PNG Parliament and the ABG Parliament to improve the effectiveness of their legislative and representative work”, Mr Trivedy added.
On a broader national scale, PNG is a developing country with over 800 local languages and a total literacy rate of 64.2% according to the 2015 estimates from CIA World Factbook (that includes ages between 15 years and over who can read and write). The country’s majority of the population live in the rural areas that lack ICT infrastructure – that’s 87.02% of the country’s 7.464 million people.
While the effects of ICT in the country are quite obvious with the number of internet users standing at 625,874 as of 2015, the issues of accessibility and literacy are some of the many questions that point out the challenges that exist for PNG where ICT is concerned.
UNDP is currently working to strengthen the capacities of legislatures in the Pacific, assisting several countries which include:
- Solomon Islands
- PNG with Bougainville and
- Republic of Marshall Islands