Friday 15 December 2023

Participants in the Policy Dialogue session, hosted  by the EU-STREIT PNG Programme in East Sepik.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in partnership with the PNG Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National ICT Authority (NICTA), and UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), recently held a multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on “Improving Network Coverage and Expansion and Financial Inclusion in the Sepik.”

This dialogue is in line with the PNG Digital Government Plan 2023 – 2027 and the Medium Term Development Plan IV which emphasizes on bridging the digital divide and unlocking economic potential in rural Papua New Guinea through ICT.

Representatives from DICT, NICTA, the EU Delegation, prominent teleco operators, and financial institutions actively participated, forming a united front to craft a comprehensive roadmap for the region’s development.

This roadmap will encompass policy reforms, practical on-the-ground actions, and robust partnerships between government, private sector, and regulatory bodies.

“The EU-STREIT PNG Programme is a catalyst for innovation and collaboration,” declared Kanagat Alyshbaev, ITU-STREIT Project Officer. “This dialogue marks a pivotal step in empowering the Sepik region with enhanced connectivity and financial services.

“ By leveraging ICT technology and establishing strong partnerships, we aim to support the transformation of the agricultural sector, fostering resilience and inclusivity. Our ultimate goal is clear: to bridge the digital divide and ignite sustainable economic growth.”

The dialogue’s scope extends beyond mere connectivity. It delves into integrating telecommunication services with banking, particularly in remote areas were cash transactions reign supreme.

This approach aims to equip rural communities with reliable internet access, alongside comprehensive digital and financial management tools, ultimately paving the way for local agribusiness development.

The EU-STREIT PNG Programme stands as a beacon of hope for the transformative power of collaboration and innovation. By tackling both connectivity and financial literacy challenges, and exploring sustainable solutions, the initiative promises to revolutionize access to critical services for Sepik farmers and the wider population.

This policy dialogue is just the beginning. With unwavering commitment and continued collaboration, this initiative is poised to unlock the full potential of digital transformation for the Sepik region, setting a powerful precedent for sustainable rural development across Papua New Guinea.

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