Papua New Guinea’s service sector on the cusp of ‘enormous opportunities’ [video]


One of the sectors to receive a boost from improved internet connectivity in Papua New Guinea will be its business services sector, according to a panel of experts. David James examines some of the likely opportunities.

Improved internet delivered by PNG’s National Transmission Network (including the Coral Sea Cable) will lead to services that do not yet exist in PNG, suggests Adrian Weeks, Australia’s Trade Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, speaking at the recent Business Advantage PNG Investment Conference.

‘Aside from [improvements in] sectors such as architecture and mining services, we’re going to see technology that’s going to create new industries, particularly around education and training. The improved connectivity is going to create an enormous opportunity for local companies.’

Weeks suggested that to build the service, Australian companies wanting to invest in PNG should consider partnering with local companies.

The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector will be crucial in this stage and it will itself require services to step up. One of these its clearly the ability to conduct e-commerce.

‘The innovation and the pace of change is happening quite quickly, and it’s about [offering] products that are suitable.’

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Nuni Kulu, Bank South Pacific’s (BSP) General Manager, Digital, said the provision of a readily accessible payment gateway system will be a requirement for the growth of SMEs.

‘In the bank we do have such a payment gateway system. What we are looking at is what is most affordable for our market – whether we are using an external vendor’s product or our own developed product.’

Kulu said the payment gateway, a focus of BSP’s e-commerce strategy, has to be ‘uniquely crafted for PNG’s SMEs’. The BSP’s system, she said, will ‘allow accessibility via our domestic cards, which have a far greater reach’.

‘It’s something that we hope will to come to market soon. We need to take our customers on this journey.

‘We are very conscious of the types of products and services in this digital space. The innovation and the pace of change is happening quite quickly, and it’s about [offering] products that are suitable.’ Kulu added that online portals should get better once there’s access to improved bandwidth.

Kulu also argued that government agencies should take the lead in service delivery by making changes to their systems. ‘[They need] to adopt more innovative ways to improve productivity.’

(Two good examples of this are the Immigration and Citizenship Authority’s new online payment system for visas, and PNG Customs’ ASYCUDA project.)

Agriculture and infrastructure

From left: KPMG PNG’s Zanie Theron, BSP’s Nuni Kulu, Australia’s Trade Commissioner (Pacific), Adrian Weeks, and BAI’s Andrew Wilkins. Credit: BAI

SMEs won’t be the only part of the economy to benefit from improved connectivity.

Weeks said increased internet speeds will help to develop opportunities in some operational aspects of agriculture which are dependent on services.

He said digital sensors will prove useful and the internet will also help with training. ‘If I need to do something and I’m located in the mountains in a village somewhere, I can look up how to develop a crop or how to manage it.’

Another area of opportunity is infrastructure maintenance – water, energy and power.

‘We’ve got remote and regional challenges in PNG, and when you look at the technologies like the Internet of Things (IOT), you can measure water supply 100 miles away – or air quality. All that can be done today.

‘A lot of this technology will give you, to a certain degree, automatic reports, feedback, comments about maintenance – when it’s required and what is required.’

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