By Meriba Tulo – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America have announced their commitment to helping to improve electricity access for Papua New Guineans.
This multilateral funding agreement was signed at the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Week at Port Moresby, signaling the start of work to enable 70 percent total population to have access to electricity by the year 2030.
On the sidelines of the APEC Leaders’ Summit, the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States announced their plan to assist Papua New Guinea to improve access to electricity through an agreement.
Papua New Guinea partners will help finance the rural electrification program through established financial and bilateral agreements.
According to PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, this program will directly benefit Papua New Guineans living in rural areas.
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, said the partnership of true regional economies quite unlike the conventional model of development cooperation that PNG have had in the past.
The Prime Minister has also added that the partnership would also see fiber optic cables being incorporated onto the expanded grid to support a greater affordability and access of internet across PNG.
Mr O’Neill has also expressed his gratitude and says he is pleased to stand beside the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and United States in making this announcement.
For Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, the assistance in this agreement reaffirms their commitment to PNG as their closest neighbor and a key partner in development in the Pacific.
“This underpins our commitment to being here having always been here and will always be here to support the people of PNG and to see their economic development,” says Australia’s PM Scott Morrison.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, says this agreement adds to the work that Japan have already begun undertaking in Morobe Province where they are assisting communities to have access to energy.
“Japan is now conducting a project for strengthening power transmission network in the Morobe Province.
And together with the other like-minded nations including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, we will remain committed to providing carefully thought-out assistance to enhance the connectivity in this part of the world namely the Indo-Pacific region including our traditional partner PNG,” says Japan’s PM, Shinzo Abe.
Whilst congratulating the PNG Government for its polity in setting a target of 70% access to energy by 2030, New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Aden, said it would only assist in the country’s development especially in terms of advancing women’s rights.
The United States of America is also a partner in this ambitious program.
US Vice President, Mike Pence, expects this program to be a key enabler of further development in Papua New Guinea in the years ahead.
“It is remarkable to think of the impact this will have on people’s lives all across this nation.
“Electricity will drive economic growth but as others have said, it will simply improve the quality of life for people all across PNG for generations to come,” says President Pence.
He also added that the people of United Stated of America were honored to partner with PNG.
The announcement has been viewed as an effort to counter the growing influence of China in this region which is fast becoming the last battleground for geo-political influence.