Thursday 24 November 2022

The Government is embarking on formulating a National Broadband Plan for Papua New Guinea, in ensuring broadband is affordable to every citizen. 

When officiating at the PNG Broadband Plan Workshop, at Stanley Hotel yesterday, Minister for Information and Communications Technology Hon. Timothy Masiu says the government is committed to meeting goals set out by the United Nations Broadband Commission which states that all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy by 2025.

“A national broadband plan (NBP) is our strategic vision for a country’s ICT development.

“This plan will also help us achieve the other targets set out by the Broadband Commission, such as making broadband affordable to all,” said the Minister

He further explains that unlike a new law or regulation, national broadband plans are policy documents that set out objectives and aspirations for the ICT sector over the medium- to long term.

Minister Masiu elaborated that, this was the reason every member country has adopted the term “Meaningful connectivity” which was initially developed by the Alliance for Affordable Internet and later adopted by the ITU, UN, Broadband Commission, and others.

“Meaningful connectivity requires that all users, including those in rural areas, have access to sufficient network transmission connectivity and speed, sufficient data utilization caps at reasonable prices, and the ability to connect as frequently as needed to incorporate advanced ICTs in their walks of life”.

The government, in this plan, will be targeting people in rural communities to have the means to access government goods and services through mobile phones without the expense and wasted time of travel and queues.

“We need to clearly lay out our roadmap for getting to full connectivity.  Without clear targets and a map of how to reach these targets we may never get there”.

Minister Masiu is passionate about bringing government and its services directly to the people.

“We want hospitals to be able to register births, hospitals, clinics and doctors to be able to register health visits or give a convenient appointment time for children to receive their vaccines.

“We want schools to make registrations for students to be easy and convenient at minimal or zero cost and without walking for hours or standing in a long and winding queue.”

Minister Masiu stated that this was the reason why this stakeholder consultation was important, to help chart the path forward.

“It has been a long and winding road since we first talked about a National Broadband Plan for Papua New Guinea and since becoming the Minister responsible for ICT, it has been my desire to bring this forward seeing the struggles of our people given our difficult geography and terrain”.

Minister Masiu stated that with the technology available, he wants to make things progress by using digital transformation to transform public administration processes, culture, and customer experiences using ICT advancement as an enabler.

“I have put connectivity as the front and center of all our efforts and we want to make sure that connectivity reaches all parts of the country from the most rural and remote villages in Menyamya in the Morobe province, Lake Murray in the Western province, remote islands in Manus and Milne Bay and villagers in our Highlands provinces and to those in the Capital cities and urban settings.”

He said that when he opened the connectivity program in Kwikila recently, the Government through the ICT Ministry, the Department of ICT and NICTA have policies and strategic plans in place for schools, health facilities, district, and provincial administration to have better access to ICT services and more so in the rural areas and the provinces.

“This pathway has begun with my Ministry through the Department and with NICTA working hard to close the digital gap and make universal access a reality”.

“We need to work hard and more urgently now than ever to bring Government directly to the people and are committed to progressing digital transformation and to making it a cornerstone of public administration”.

Minister Masiu encouraged everyone to continue their efforts and invited government partners, development partners, private sector, civil Society, university partners and people from the Technical Communities to ensure that this first national broadband plan meets the needs of all stakeholders and aligns to GoPNG policies, strategies, laws, and regulations.

“We know and recognize that we cannot do this alone, we need to increase our collaboration with other relevant Government agencies, the private sector, the technical community, the academic community, civil society, and most importantly our development and international partners such as the Government of Australia, our partners in APEC, and others in the Pacific community”.

“My Ministry, the Department of ICT, and NICTA will commit to working closely with these partners to step up on capacity-building programs and takes seriously our responsibility to create an enabling environment with policies and regulations that promote digital transformation seriously and that is why we have been working so hard on transforming the country,” said the Minister.

“Today’s stakeholder discussion of the National Broadband Plan and the Validation tomorrow of the GoPNG Universal Access and Service Policy along with NICTA’s Universal Access Strategic Plan is a big step forward for the country”.

The five main pillars of the draft National Broadband Plan for Papua New Guinea, were also introduced during the workshop. They are:

Mr Masiu said, affordable, accessible, and reliable infrastructure were the foundation to achieving an inclusive digital transformation.

“This plan and the UAS policy will lead us on the right path to meeting our country’s Sustainable Development Goals”.

“It is now your turn to drive the broadband agenda and digital transformation agenda for the country,” Minister said.

“You all have noted the government has passed the Digital Transformation Law and only last week we have begun to bring in all State agencies and government departments to begin to translate the law into its implementation”.

Minister Masiu said this will only happen if we work collaboratively together and ensure that the Prime Minister’s word of leaving no one behind comes to fruition.