Discover Niunet, Papua New Guinea’s exciting education startup


Niunet is a startup company aiming to disrupt the education sector of Papua New Guinea. In an exclusive interview with Business Advantage PNG, Chief Technical Officer David Valentine, talks about his plans after winning in Seedstars, the startup competition for emerging markets.

The Niunet team after winning ‘SSW Best Startup’. Credit: Seedstars

David Valentine and his co-founder Rebekah Ilave started the educational company Niunet to solve a PNG problem PNG—the difficulty in distributing digital education material due to poor internet coverage.

Valentine, a veteran software engineer who has worked for Data Nets and Allcom PNG, tackles the technical aspects while Ilave, an experienced analyst who has worked for ExxonMobil PNG and the World Bank, takes charge of operations.

The startup’s innovative education delivery model caught the interest of Seedstars’ organisers, who invited Valentine and Ilave to present at a recent Port Moresby event.

Niunet placed first amongst 12 promising PNG startups and will represent the country at the Seedstars Asia Summit in Bangkok and the Global Seedstars Summit in Switzerland. The startup stands the chance to win US$500,000 (K1.697 million) in equity investment.


Winning would mean the opportunity to grow the startup, for which the co-founders have ambitious plans.

Niunet aims to help learning institutions deliver targeted educational content to students without internet access.

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Internet costs are unaffordable for most Papua New Guineans. However, up to 2.5 million Papua New Guineans (30 per cent of PNG’s population) own a mobile phone, with which they can access Niunet’s content.

The educational content is provided by the Niunet Box, a proprietary device built by the startup. For a monthly subscription fee, the company installs the Niunet Box in learning institutions to extract interest data from the students, they then analyse the content requests and advise the institutions about the type of content the students want.

‘Even though you’ll find that people in rural areas have devices to consume content, there’s no cellular connectivity for them to access them. This is where we see an opportunity for Niunet.’

‘For example, our Niunet Box is able to determine that the students of a university’s computer science faculty are interested in learning Python coding language as opposed to PHP. Subsequently, we will work together with the institution to develop training materials and content around Python for the students to access,’ Valentine explains.


Niunet’s high-speed network allows students without internet to access educational content such as TED talks, open-source textbooks, Wikipedia and video tutorials.



It also tackles the poor cellular coverage in many parts of the country.

‘Even though you’ll find that people in rural areas have devices to consume content, there’s no cellular connectivity for them to access them. This is where we see an opportunity for Niunet,’ Valentine says.

Future initiatives

Currently, Niunet has a monthly subscription model for the devices they install on their customers’ networks. In the next two years, the startup aims to collaborate with a local mobile carrier to obtain a private Access Point Name (APN), which will allow the company to deliver their content through sim cards, giving people instant high-speed access to the platform for a monthly subscription fee of K5 to K15.

Another initiative that Niunet is working on is upgrading their request analysis model to deliver targeted content to their subscribers in a quicker and smarter way.

Hopes for PNG

Valentine has a vision for the future of PNG, and it involves empowering individuals with skills such as coding, that is why he volunteers to teach primary school girls coding. He believes that there’s a great future for Internet and Communications Technology (ICT) and opportunities in teaching people to code.

‘We hope to inspire more PNG people to pick up coding. We want PNG coders to make useful applications, scripts and software. I believe that with the right tools, it’s possible for Papua New Guineans to learn these skills and work for a global marketplace.’

David Valentine will be speaking at the inaugural Innovation PNG Conference at the Stanley Hotel, Port Moresby on 8 November. For more information on the event, which is co-hosted by the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Business Advantage International, click here.

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