Ready for business: Papua New Guinea’s Ihu Special Economic Zone approved


The National Executive Council has given the nod to Papua New Guinea’s first special economic zone, in Gulf Province. Project Director Peter KenGemar tells Business Advantage PNG about how it could boost local jobs and investment.

Ihu Special Economic Zone (ISEZ). Credit: Office of Member for Kikori Open Electorate

Papua New Guinea’s Ihu Special Economic Zone (ISEZ) is a step closer to reality after receiving approval from the National Executive Council (NEC).

Special economic zones are designed to offer attractive investment opportunities for international businesses to help the country move beyond its reliance on the extractive industries and help grow small-to-medium business and to help encourage better utilisation of PNG’s other natural resources.

The benefits of the zones are set to include tax concessions and cheaper utilities but full details are pending following the ISEZ launch.

For now Peter KenGemar, Project Director, Ihu Special Economic Zone, says that the ISEZ is ‘beginning its negotiations with investors and developers’ with a view to a big boost in PNG jobs.

‘Just one timber processing facility could generate up to 200,000 jobs,’ KenGemar says. ‘If you look at fisheries, also that is another 200,000 and we are not talking oil and gas or petrochemicals; that’s nearly a million jobs there, the more we look at it.’

But the move away from reliance on resources is, ironically, dependent on one at least one of the extractive industry’s big-ticket projects: the Total-led Papua LNG project.

Story continues after advertisment...

‘Papua LNG is critical for our project because some of the infrastructure programs we have in place to kickstart our project, the funding is underpinned by the infrastructure development grants that will be coming out of the Papua LNG project. This is a legislated benefit to the resource extraction area. We are front loading this benefit to our ISEZ Critical Capital Infrastructures Projects (CCIP) program. So, that is the money we are looking at for refinancing our program. We have learnt our lessons in PNG-LNG program whereby no major infrastructure projects were implemented and millions of dollars have been squandered.’

That said, KenGemar is not concerned about the potential delay of Papua LNG. The first thing ISEZ needs to do is establish the SEZ authority and ‘we are very happy with their lead time’.

Bringing in international investment including Foreign Direct investment into development of the industrial zones

Ihu Special Economic Zone’s Peter KenGemar.

The ISEZ, it is hoped, will stimulate foreign investment in PNG in areas like manufacturing and exports, and resource processing like marine and forestry. There is also a particular focus on petrochemicals downstream processing, with interest from around the world.

‘Those would be 100 per cent foreign direct investments. Mostly we are talking to Japanese, to Chinese companies and to American and Australian companies and some support services coming out of Manila in the Philippines,’ KenGemar says.

The key approvals from the National Executive Council include:

  • the establishment of Ihu Special Economic Zone and ISEZ Development Company
  • ISEZ Development Office to engage in discussions and negotiations with project development partners
  • the Critical Capital Infrastructure Projects (CCIP) program for ISEZ
  • Site Preparations and Management Budget of K105 million for the next five years during the development phase of the project

Watch KenGemar’s presentation on ISEZ and Gulf Province at last year’s Business Advantage Papua New Guinea Investment Conference.


  1. Michael Glipu says

    Amazing..clike every successful business.. lets be practical and dream big. think big ,talk big, trial and error produces success and is better than being arrogant and negative..the world has become very small now due to technological advances in every respect .Either gulf n png does something now with its resources or sit and wait for the end of the world…

  2. Suve Kerekere says

    It is well planned and looks promising for Kikori district electorate to benefit from. With current government’s vision “Take back PNG”, Mr. Peter, are you saying that all timber resources within Kikori district to feed the mill in ISEZ, to come up with 200,000 jobs? Government has passed a policy to stop all round log exports in the future. That’s a good one!

    How many people in Kikori electorate have qualifications commensurate to technologies that will be built in ISEZ?

  3. Morobonga Gigl Kangi says

    Sometimes you have to dream big and think outside the box and try to help your own people and commend people that try to help your people

  4. Kaivovore says

    My Traditional landowners of Ihu were missed out big time on the set up of this project. To date they have been left out in total darkness and don’t fully understand the Special Economic Authority Act passed in parliament on the 13th of Feb 2020 which bind technical terms which Peter did NOT give them the time to engage an independent body to interpret the Act to my people. He was NEVER transparent and his project is questionable. We voted our Member for Kikori to bring basic service and not a sofisticated project owned by Peter and his wife and their tribeman as per IPA records. My people have the last say on the project. We are seeing enough problems in Port Moresby and our people cannot be marginalized.

  5. Harry Aurere says

    Peter is telling lies here. How could we have a timber processing plant operating now with about 1000 jobs could in the future be hiring 200,000 people with the already depleted forest? This is not right. A million jobs, that’s total lie!

    Further more, nearly all the Ihu people do not have any technical qualification to build this city. Many will be just guards and cleaners. How do you address this Mr. Kengemar?

    • Haro Taylor says

      Hyperbolic and dillussional one timber mile can never create 200,000 jobs. Which planet does this guy lived??

  6. Richard Oakley says

    Inspirational. Is overseas support encouraged ?
    My interest is marine-based industries.

  7. Jeyapathy Singaram says

    It is impossible to create 200,000 jobs for timber processing facility and another 200,000 jobs for fisheries. Maybe 2,000 jobs for timber and another 2,000 for fisheries.

    • Peter Cunningham says

      ABSOLUTELY CORRECT good sir.
      A few will become very rich (just like they always have done) as they engineer the rape of Papua New Guinea by foreign interests.

      People who cannot smell a dead rat in this are either 100% stupid or making money out of it somewhere.

  8. Yongi Andale says

    Any special considerations given to our own national research papers (Conceptual/feasibility studies and FEED) and Economic Evaluation documents targeting downstream processing of oil & gas? Or are we just waiting for foreigners? We have completed reserach papers therefore we shall engage investors on contract basis in line witrh the vision ” Take back PNG and to make PNG the first richest black nation in the world?”

Leave a Reply