Conference catches Papua New Guinea of the cusp of a new era of investment


Investment and partnership opportunities were a focus at this year’s 2023 Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference in Brisbane, with numbers exceeding pre-COVID levels.

The 2023 PNG investment Conference included two days of presentations, panel discussions and interviews featuring over 35 expert speakers, as well as an Expo and social program.  Credit: Stefan Daniljchenko/BAI

Papua New Guinea’s economy is set to grow by 2.4 per cent this year and 2.6 per cent in 2024, according to projections presented by Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Papua New Guinea Country Economist, Marcel Schröder, at the recent 2023 Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference in Brisbane.

He also told the event’s delegates – drawn from countries including Australia, PNG, the USA, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and the Pacific Islands – that a reopened Porgera gold mine could add as much as two per cent to the country’s GDP next year.

‘The good news is this: our government is not sleeping. We are working to improve the business environment and climate in Papua New Guinea.’

Meanwhile, Westpac’s Senior Economist Justin Smirk told the conference that global inflationary pressures and supply chain delays had peaked and that Westpac was more positive than the ADB for coming years, predicting 3.2 per cent growth this year for PNG, 4.8 per cent in 2024 and 2.3 per cent in 2025.

Honest appraisal

Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru. Credit: Stefan Daniljchenko/BAI

After an honest appraisal of some of PNG’s challenges, namely ‘law and order issues, the high level of unemployment … and our cost of doing business,’ PNG’s Minister for International Trade and Investment Richard Maru, representing Prime Minister James Marape at the conference, outlined how PNG’s government was addressing these issues.

‘The good news is this: our government is not sleeping. We are working to improve the business environment and climate in Papua New Guinea.’

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He highlighted the government’s major investment in more police and an expanded judiciary as well as allocating a greater monthly supply of foreign exchange and the expanding PNG’s capital markets.

‘Despite all these challenges, the resource boom that we are going to start experiencing from next year onwards … when Papua LNG starts, will be unparalleled in our history,’ he told delegates.

‘In addition to those rich projects, our focus is now shifting to the non-resource sector.’

He outlined valued-adding opportunities across agriculture, forestry and fisheries and said the government wanted to ‘partner the private sector to go into investment and joint venture companies in sectors that are very important to our country. We don’t want to run businesses. We are looking for the private sector to partner with us and manage those businesses for us.’


ExxonMobil PNG’s Tera Shandro. Credit: Stefan Daniljchenko/BAI

The potential of the resources sector over the next decade was a focus, with Tera Shandro, Chairperson and Managing Director of ExxonMobil PNG, and Santos’ Executive Vice President – Eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea, Brett Darley, outlining their respective investments in PNG and the benefits that have flowed from them.

Meanwhile, Susil Nelson-Kongoi, Chief Executive Officer of the PNG Institute of Banking and Business Management, outlined how businesses could position themselves to participate in the forthcoming TotalEnergies-led Papua LNG project.

Finally, Jerry Garry, Managing Director of PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority provided an update on the reopening of Porgera and the prospects for the Wafi-Golpu copper-gold mine, as well as measures being taken to encourage more mining exploration.


Nasfund’s Rajeev Shama, KPMG’s Zanie Theron and the IPA’s Clarence Hoot engaging in an animated discussion on PNG’s investment climate. Credit: Stefan Daniljchenko/BAI

Both ExxonMobil and Santos took the opportunity to outline their plans to significantly reduce carbon emissions, a theme that was taken up further by KPMG’s Global Oil and Gas Lead, Jonathon Peacock – who spoke of energy transition in PNG – and the IFC’s Senior Investment Officer, Jeffrey Tan, who outlined IFC support for decarbonisation projects.

In addition to the region’s major banks and the IFC, key development agencies were also present at the conference, including the ADB and the United States’ International Development Finance Corporation.

Delegates were also exposed to a number of successful investment case studies from PNG, across such sectors as mining, business services, agriculture, trading and finance, while Steamships’ Managing Director Rupert Bray outlined the PNGX-listed company’s extensive investment plans in a special video commissioned for the conference (see below).

State seeks investors

The conference was also a platform for several of PNG’s government agencies to communicate with the investment community.

Kumul Consolidated Holdings’ Professor David Kavanamur. Credit: Stefan Daniljchenko/BAI

Foremost was Kumul Consolidated Holdings, the holding company for PNG’s state-owned enterprises. Managing Director David Kavanamur highlighted the progress of some of its high impact projects, including its recovery plans for PNG Power, plans to partially privatise Telikom PNG and also expand the People’s Micro Bank into a fully-fledged bank.

He also outlined new projects currently seeking private sector investment, including the redevelopment of Port Moresby’s old port, and agroforestry rehabilitation projects at Cape Rodney in Central Province (rubber) and Dylup Plantation in Madang Province (copra and cocoa).

Meanwhile, Acting CEO of national airline Air Niugini, Gary Seddon, outlined the airline’s long-term strategy to expand its fleet and network, as well as address its shorter-term capacity issues.

Employment visa

Chief Migration Officer Stanis Hulahau provided further details of the planned Employment Visa – the combined work permit and visa – which is expected in coming months. He said an online Sponsor Portal for the new visa would be launched next month, allowing a ‘more streamlined and fast-track processing system’ for major employers such as mining and petroleum, manufacturing and recruitment companies, which will be provided on a subscription basis.

Eric Mossman Uvovo, CEO of PNG’s Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA), used the conference to announce Port Moresby would host the NRL’s Pacific Test series in late October and early November between PNG, Fiji and the Cook Islands (men), and PNG, Samoa, Fiji and Cook Islands (women). He also unveiled new tourism promotion campaigns aimed at Australia and New Zealand tourists featuring TPA brand ambassador Justin Olam.

The 2023 Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference took place on 10 & 11 August at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane. The date of the 2024 conference – the 12th such event – will be announced towards the end of this year.

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