IFC looking at investment opportunities ‘even more actively’ in Papua New Guinea, says new country head


Markus Scheuermaier is the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) new Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea. He shares his thoughts on how the IFC can make the most difference in PNG with Business Advantage PNG.

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): What are your main personal goals for your time in PNG?

Markus Scheuermaier (MS): First of all, I would like to discover the country and its people. I am a traveller at heart, and have always been fascinated by PNG, in particular the diversity of its languages. Na mi tu laik lainim Tok Pisin!

Then there is the sheer beauty of PNG’s mountains, forests and seas, and I hope to be able to explore. I will be guided by the people that I meet, and of course hope to travel as part of my work there.

BAPNG: You’ve been with IFC for 15 years or so, and have been posted to Washington DC, South Africa and, most recently, to Mozambique. What experiences do you expect will serve you well during your time in PNG?

MS: I am struck at times by the similarity between Mozambique and PNG. Like Mozambique, PNG has tremendous potential that remains largely untapped. Both countries are blessed with a youthful population, agricultural lands, but only mining and gas seem to have attracted major investment in past years.

I hope that some of my experience, from engaging with the business community, to structuring projects, will help me in PNG.

BAPNG: In your view, what are there major challenges and opportunities PNG presents, as far as private sector development is concerned? Where can the IFC make the most difference?

MS: PNG has one of the world’s fastest growing populations, with a high poverty rate. Its economy is heavily resource-dependent, and the resulting boom and bust cycles have not benefited most people.

Now, much of PNG’s economic prospects seem to hinge on gas, but there are so many other opportunities. For example, agricultural produce, if proper supply chains are established; something IFC has been working on. Indeed, it is critical for PNG to look beyond resources like gas, given rapidly changing climate priorities.

Story continues after advertisment...

‘We are looking at opportunities in finance, housing and agriculture. IFC does not invest in projects alone, rather we work alongside sponsors with an opportunity that needs financing.’

This is where I see our role – to help PNG’s economy diversify, create more jobs, reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity. IFC’s PNG Country Strategy focuses mainly on agriculture, financial inclusion and markets, sustainable energy, and gender. I think there are very specific areas where IFC can become more involved: agricultural exports, wind and solar energy, and digital finance.

BAPNG: What projects can we expect from IFC in PNG in the coming year?

MS: We are looking at opportunities in finance, housing and agriculture. IFC does not invest in projects alone, rather we work alongside sponsors with an opportunity that needs financing. We are also not a majority investor and are always looking at working with other partners. In terms of advisory work, we are particularly excited to be launching a new gender-focused program.

BAPNG: Has IFC’s strategy for PNG altered as a result of the global pandemic and the greater global urgency about climate change?

MS: Both have most definitely had an impact on our approach. We know that COVID-19 has already reversed development gains in PNG, especially for women. The pandemic has also exacerbated some of the existing development challenges in the country, such as poor health infrastructure.

While our priorities have remained the same, we are looking at investment opportunities in the country even more actively. In our advisory program we are also helping improve the investment climate, developing a program targeting women, and are working with the government in creating public private partnerships in healthcare, affordable housing, and renewable energy.

Climate has been another game-changer. In this regard, 2021 has become a pivotal year for the World Bank Group, of which IFC is a member, which has just adopted a new Climate Change Action Plan.

BAPNG: How can PNG’s private sector engage with IFC?

MS: Foremost, we are looking for investments that can have a substantial development impact. At the same time, the projects need to make business sense – we lend on commercial terms, but at times we can draw on concessional money for investments that may not come about otherwise.

We definitely see great opportunities in PNG and are keen to work with the business community – generally speaking, the first point of contact should be our local office in Port Moresby – either me, or my colleagues there.

The IFC is an event partner of the 2021 Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference. For more details on the IFC’s participation in the program, and to register, visit: www.pnginvestmentconference.com.


  1. Yama Demas says

    My question is:
    Can small PNG business obtain loan or financial guarantee from IFC to increase business capacity of a small PNG Business. Can PNG small Business source K500,000.00 to K 3,000.000.00 as loan or credit guarantee and can be repaid with interest in a term of 24 months or 2 years…… If possible, how can be start apply or mobilise to sit with an IFC officers to do documebtation and planning to how we can work together to make it happen??(.

    Too much talked and investment fund is parked in GOPNG and corruption is paving its way to deplete and IFC funds is sucked without tangible results. All publications on newspapers us just an empty drum without seeds but loud. Pls . Start change focus of IFC.

    Thanks and have a top blind focus/vision.

Leave a Reply