Central Province: Papua New Guinea Business Guide


Central Province occupies the southern side of the Owen Stanley Ranges and the area of coast from Bereina in the north, to Gaire village in the south. The entire National Capital District sits within the province’s boundaries and Port Moresby doubles as the capital of Central.

A wobbly river crossing along the Kokoda Trail. Credit: Greg Newington

Its proximity to the National Capital District has led to significant infrastructure development in the province. In most Papua New Guinean towns, Tok Piksin is the main common language, but in the southern mainland coastal area, which is centred on Central Province, Hiri Motu is the main language. A road runs along the length of the province, and areas around Port Moresby are well served by roads.

Economic overview

Central Province is the location of the gas plant for the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project, at Caution Bay, some 20 kilometres from Port Moresby. Land has been set aside adjacent to the plant for a petroleum park and the road connecting the plant to the national capital has become a significant development corridor: for logistics, Port Moresby’s new port at Motukea Island, infrastructure and even residential homes. PNG’s only oil refinery, at Napa Napa is also nearby and there are plans for its expansion.

There are also ambitious plans to create a commercial dairy industry in PNG, based in Central Province. Dairy farming is now partially replacing imports in Port Moresby and other parts of PNG, increasing local self-sufficiency. A large-scale vegetable farm is being established near Port Moresby, with some of the production to be exported. Extensive logging is undertaken in the province, but questions over its legitimacy has led to a review of the use of Special Agricultural Business Leases.

The province is a producer of rubber, about half of which is from village plantings. There is fishing activity in both in the sea and the rivers. Fresh or smoked freshwater or saltwater fish, shellfish and crustacea are caught and used for cash. People living near Bereina have a profitable trade in food and betel nut, while those in reasonable proximity to Port Moresby can sell food and other goods at the city’s markets. Most vegetable supplies to Port Moresby, where demand is intensifying, come from the province, particularly from smallholders in peri-urban areas around Port Moresby. Those in the more remote areas of Goilala and Abau tend to focus on subsistence farming.

Many people in the province commute to earn non-agricultural wage incomes in and around Port Moresby.

In August 2020, a mining lease was issued for the Central Cement and Lime Project, which will involve a quarry, plant site, 36MW power station, and deep draft wharf. The site is located 25 kilometres north-west of Port Moresby.

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The province features mountains, river deltas, islands, Port Moresby’s Nature Park and the Varirata National Park. Covering an area of 1,000 hectares, Varirata was the original hunting ground of tree-house dwelling landowners. The lookout presents a panoramic view of Port Moresby and the coastline. There are day trips to Ower’s Corner, the starting point for the famous Kokoda Trail, about 60 kilometres from Port Moresby. The trips go via the lush Sogeri Plateau, and include a visit to the Bomana war cemetery. The trek takes five to 10 days. Another attraction is the three-day annual Hiri Moale Festival, which features traditional dance, singing and drama. Held every September, it celebrates one of the epic trading voyages between Central Province villagers and the people in the Gulf of Papua.

What to do

  • The Port Moresby Bushwalkers’ Club (facebook.com/Port-Moresby- Bushwalkers) conducts short walks to sites outside Port Moresby.
  • There is good diving at the reef behind Fisherman’s Island, near Port Moresby. The Dive Centre (+675 7202 1200) will get you there.
  • The Gelebara Kite Club (facebook.com/Gelebara) offers camping and day trips on a secluded beach.
  • Go on a day trip, or stay overnight, at Lion, Manubada, Lolorua, Gemo, Fisherman’s, or Idiha islands. They are close to Port Moresby, but you will need local knowledge.

Where to stay

For a list of hotel and resorts, click here.

Central Province in brief

Province name: Central Province

Capital: Port Moresby

Population: 237,016

Area: 29,998 square kilometres

Sectors: Petroleum and gas, logistics, fisheries, forestry, rubber, dairy, agribusiness

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