Thursday 17 August 2023

DICT Secretary Mr Steven Matainaho delivering the keynote address on the country’s digital transformation journey during the Australia-PNG Young Professionals Network panel discussion yesterday, August 16, 2023 at Holiday Inn, Port Moresby.

The Australia-PNG Network’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) hosted a dynamic panel discussion, that brought together prominent figures and experts to explore the rapid digital transformation sweeping through the Pacific region.

The event held on Wednesday August 16 at Holiday Inn, underscored the profound importance of collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity in shaping the future landscape of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Mihai Sora, the adept Project Director of the Australia-PNG Network, set the tone for the event by highlighting the network’s pivotal role in fostering robust cross-border connections.
Mr Sora emphasized the significance of the network’s online presence through its interactive website and vibrant social media platforms.

“Through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the Australia-PNG Network serves as a bridge, facilitating meaningful exchanges between individuals from Australia and Papua New Guinea,” Mr Sora stated.

He further added, “Our network acts as a repository of valuable resources, including insightful articles, analyses, and a comprehensive register of expertise, enriching the knowledge base of professionals, students, and researchers alike.”

With a distinguished advisory council comprising seasoned leaders from both nations, the network’s operations are efficiently overseen by the prestigious Lowy Institute, supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Shifting the focus to the region’s escalating digital transformation, PNG Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Steven Matainaho delivered a compelling keynote address. Secretary Matainaho extolled the role of emerging leaders in propelling transformative change through innovation.

“Innovation is the cornerstone of progress,” Secretary Matainaho affirmed. He shared insights into the evolution of the DICT, detailing the strategic policies and forward-thinking strategies that led to milestones such as the Digital Transformation Policy of 2020 and the Digital Government Act of 2022.
Responding to queries raised in the panel discussion on internet accessibility and sustainability amid political shifts, Secretary Matainaho delved into the intricate dynamics of the market. “Wholesale data providers play a vital role in shaping the landscape,” he explained.

He underscored the delicate balance required in managing political influences to ensure that a visionary agenda remains steadfastly embedded within the agency’s core mission.

Secretary Matainaho’s commitment to inclusivity was evident as he stressed the importance of digital transformation being a conduit for all. “Our journey towards digital transformation must be inclusive, ensuring that no one is left behind,” he emphasized.

Sarah Pyawa, Program Manager at FHI360, offered profound insights into the challenges faced by PNG’s health sector and the untapped potential of ICT solutions and Digital Connectivity.

Ms Pyawa elaborated the need for collaborative effort between the government and the private sector, and a comprehensive approach to address these challenges and harness value that ICT can add in the Health sector.

Mathuselah Wabiria, of the BSP Financial Group and President of YPN, shed light into the transformative impact of digitalization on Papua New Guinea’s banking systems.

Mr Wabiria highlighted that the introduction of digital services stimulates demand, creating a symbiotic relationship that drives innovation. Despite challenges, Mr Wabiria’s optimism shone through as he shared ongoing efforts in the financial sector to embrace digital evolution.

Bringing a unique perspective to the table, Laurel Pentanu, a Technical Consultant at the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, expounded on the profound role of digital transformation in minimizing conflicts.

“In an increasingly connected world, digitalization enhances communication and promotes understanding,” Pentanu asserted. She cited social media’s role in amplifying the voices of individuals, promoting tourism, and ultimately fostering a sense of societal value.

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