Why investors are turning to Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea’s third city


Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea’s third-largest city and the centre of the country’s populous Highlands Region, is once again starting to receive attention from investors. Business Advantage PNG discovers why.

An artists’ impression of the new Steamships/Tininga Wonye Dobel development in Mt Hagen Credit: Steamships

With an official population of just 47,064, the city of Mt Hagen in PNG’s Western Highlands Province might seem, on the surface at least, to represent a modest opportunity for investors.

However, as a key logistics point along the region’s major artery, the Highlands Highway, it is a major service centre not only for the nearby Wahgi Valley agricultural zone, but also for much of PNG’s most populous region as a whole. (According to PNG’s National Statistics Office’s 2021 estimate, the Highlands region is home to 4.57 million Papua New Guineans, and growing.)

‘Steamships in many ways is returning to the Highlands’

This explains why several of PNG’s major companies are increasing their commitment to Mt Hagen.

New ground

Mostly notably, ground was broken in September 2022 on a new branch for bank BSP – phase one of the large retail-led Wonye Dobel development being created by Steamships Trading Company in partnership with Mt Hagen-based retailer Tininga.

Steamships’ Rupert Bray

‘Steamships in many ways is returning to the Highlands,’ Rupert Bray, Managing Director of Steamships, told the recent 2023 Business Advantage PNG Investment Conference.

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‘We’ve got a mixed-use development already in Mount Hagen, in the Hagen Central shopping centre [also with Tininga] and we have an investment in the Highlander hotel and some other minor properties there as well.’

‘With a population growth of the Wahgi Valley and the broader Highlands, with the development of agriculture and with the development of smaller-scale business, [the new development] will be several hundred million kina worth of investment.

‘We hope that detailed design will be completed by the end of third quarter this year and commence development early in 2024.’

Phase two of the 38,000 square metre, two-storey mixed use development will see supermarkets, homeware centres, restaurants and more finance and government support services.

‘They’ll be ready to go in there probably within 18 months of breaking ground,’ said Bray. ‘In due course, we will look to bring in more investors into that project.’

Investment support

Steamships’ and Tininga’s Wonye Dobel investment is not the only one. It follows the Brian Bell Group’s April 2022 opening of a K40 million new shopping centre close to the centre of Mt Hagen. Telco Vodafone PNG also opened an outlet in town in March this year.

Further investment in Mt Hagen will be supported by two other notable developments.

Firstly, ongoing improvements are being made to the Highlands Highway under the National Government’s signature Connect PNG road-building program. This is already facilitating better and more efficient movement of people and goods across the region and is expecting to continue to do so in coming years.

Secondly, with lack of finance considered to be a brake on Mt Hagen’s development as a city, there have been concrete moves to improve its financing, along similar lines to that already achieved with some success in PNG’s second city, Lae.

Under the Mt Hagen City (Amendment) Bill 2023, passed by Parliament in June this year, the Western Highlands Provincial Government will be obliged to allocate 25 per cent of the GST revenue it receives to the city from 2024 onwards, which should bolster local services and infrastructure.


  1. Nathaniel Kupp says

    This is a vote of confidence, thanks to Tenenga Group and the Yamka Pepka leadership for creating the environment hence Steamship Partnership. Going forward our own local community leaders and WHPG need to give their undivided support, continuing peace and safety for travelling public and investorr alike.
    We as a province are the gateway to upper highland and Chimbu and Jiwaka. So if we continue to provide friendly condisive environment our local economy will continue to grow. Bottom line our small people will benefit though the economy cycle.
    Welcome News.

  2. Alphonse Wapa says

    Nasfund and Nambawan Super should also get on the bandwagon in association with other retail outlets, and investment more in Hagen, which is the commercial hub of the entire highlands region. Thereby creating employment opportunities, reduce youth unemployment and the ever-increasing rate of crime. This will fuel more business activity, that as a result can stop urban drifting to cities like Moresby and Lae.

  3. Atonomous Concerned person. says

    More developement will create more jobs for people who are unemployed.

    Hopefully ,the young youths on the streets,villages,tribes,clans,families,groups & individuals causing petty, middle and serious crimes can be controlled and put to a stop by Mt Hagen/Western Highlands Police Department.Mt Hagen,Western Highlands Province,their Ministers and Village Leaders.Mt Hagen is known for one of the provinces that have high crimes rates in Papua New Guinea.

    If or when you log on YouTube both past & present,on the latest year 2023,you will see oversea YouTubers,from all over the globe/world who have travelled into Mt Hagen/WHP individually and they have successfully video the adventages and disadventages (High general crimes) many negative crime related fact information & Tribal ethnic riots on Mt Hagen/WHP and the Highlands Region, the relevent comments written by viewers all around the world forecast on Mt Hagen/WHP.Its a lasting bad impression on Papua New Guineas when watching and reading comments,its sad and questionable to the Law Enforcers of the Police Department doing about addressing Crimes in Mt Hagen.

    Once controlled,set long term strong law enforcements, tough penalties on law breakers & closely monitored by the responsible Government Department especially the Police, then I can say, Mt Hagen/WHP can handle its factual crime stories with assistance from outstanding Leaders to make a difference and continue to bring in more benefical businesses to gain revenue for the Province as the third city.

  4. Tony Palme says

    Invester confidence is restored through sound and practical leadership. An indication that Mt. Hagen is slowly returning to it’s former glory.

  5. Thanks to Steamship properties for partnership with Tininga and investing in hagen

  6. The Provincial Government is doing it’s best to attract investors by improving Law and Order in the city. Strongly acknowledge the Leadership of the Governor.

  7. Billy Pora says

    It is great news for WHP. In that, expansion of the city is also vital in meeting investor demands. It is suggested for the Pope’s Oval area to be integrated for infrastructure development as well.

  8. Steven Wek says

    Its a real good impact in the economy of Westren Hinghland Highlands Province, on seeing major pioneer investor’s are already having confidence and are investing in the province. In the last decade major eye watering impact infrastructure development projects has been developed. Like the world class infrastructure development of the kagamuga International airport, the kagamuga to keltiga four lane highway development, the eight storey Sir Mara haus building infrastructure development and with the increase of developments in the business house’s like the Tininga hardware and tininga shopping complex, The new Brain bell shoping center, the Freedom Apex shoping center and the Gabina office complex and more down the linne is portraying our economy is growing rapidly.

    With the estiblishments of the major investment’s gaining momentum, law and order problem as been improved under the .new governor Wai Rapa with in the Mt Hagen city with the citys cleanliness beautified with flower bed’s. This is a way forward for the province’s development to implement the visions of the national government for creating employment. We need this developments to improve the standard of the society to cope up with the morden standard of living. After all we thank all the partners taking the initiative to be part and parcel of the development of our good Province, wishing you all the best for 2023.

    • Michael Nikints says

      Great news for the people of WHP and the Highlands Region. Thanks to our great leaders to make it happen.
      We have alot of challenges ahead for our province to tighten it’s law and order issues, good working environment and improve urban city road infrastructure development to make Mt Hagen the model city.
      With trust and confidence our leaders will reshape the city and overcome the challenges ahead to make it happen!

  9. thepngrecruiter says

    Glad to hear of businesses heading back into the Highlands region of PNG, particularly Mt.Hagen. Great to set up shop and capture the massive number of consumers and customers coming out of the greater highlands region for various reasons, creating job opportunities for many there.

  10. Sinai Steven says

    It’s Great news. Due to the recent change in new leadership with My. Hagen City Commission’s establishment, confidence is restored for the business avenues.

  11. Nalam Aket says

    We should thank PMJM and PANGU led government to ensure fundamentals in terms of law regarding revenue through gst and connectivity program that allowed for unhindered cargo delivery from Lae sea port to Hagen and rest of the Highlands province thus creating opportunities for economy investment and growth.

  12. Ben Gurame says

    Development at its best…..Kanda!

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