Mr. Chairman,
Secretary General of the ITU,
Distinguished delegates and colleagues.

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to address the 2018 International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference on behalf of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. I bring warm greetings from the people and the Government of Papua New Guinea led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. 

I also wish to acknowledge and thank our hosts, the government and the people of the United Arab Emirates for their gracious hospitality.

Distinguished delegates,

We have come to attend this important conference because we believe in the ITU. The ITU has played a very important role in the development of telecommunications and ICT generally in the world. 

For Papua New Guinea, 2018 is seen as the year of embracing ICT and the digital economic future. We have just rejuvenated the A2D Migration process for public broadcasts especially in television which has been lagging behind due mostly to funding. But the two commercial television stations have almost completed the migration process. 

We have had an ICT Symposium on May 17 to mark the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. We have had a Blockchain Technology conference last month as part of our catch up to what is - to us – an emerging technology. The National Executive Council chaired by Prime Minister O’Neill has passed a National Roadmap on the ICT Sector. And that Cabinet decision has set the stage for an all-of-Government approach in establishing the Ministerial Committee on ICT to be co-chaired by me as Minister responsible for ICT and the Minister for National Planning and Monitoring. This will for the first time lift the profile of ICT Sector high in Government agenda in Papua New Guinea.

As many of you know, we have been playing host to APEC 2018 – under the theme of embracing the digital future. This will climax in the APEC Leaders’ Summit in mid-November this year – which I think is a fitting summit to PNG’s ICT focus.

We expect that the ITU will continue to play a pivotal and vital role in advancing telecommunications development for the good of mankind particularly in the developing world where digital divide continues to pose significant challenges in the context of national development. 

I wish to acknowledge the support of the ITU, and commend the Secretary General and your hardworking staff from the Regional Office in Thailand for the technical assistance and support we have received over the years in implementing projects in Papua New Guinea. We also thank all other development partners including Member States and the international organisations that have provided support in addressing telecommunication development needs in Papua New Guinea.

As inferred earlier, PNG has made tremendous strides in recent years in the development of telecommunications and ICT generally. Commencing with the formulation of ICT Policy in 2009 and the separation of policy, regulation and operation responsibilities, competition was introduced and a converged independent sector regulator established. Mobile penetration rates have increased to nearly 70 percent whilst mobile broadband penetration is about 40 percent, mostly in major cities where 3G service is rolled out.  

Our national transmission network is being upgraded which includes the deployment of a high capacity fibre cable system that will connect all major cities and urban centres particularly the provincial administration capitals of PNG. A major international submarine cable linking PNG, Australia and Solomon Islands is expected to be operational by the end of 2019.

Given the development of the industry since the 2009 Policy, my government recognises the need for continuous policy review and update.  The national ICT Road Map passed by the O’Neill Cabinet recognises the need to focus on six digital framework areas of Digital Infrastructure, Digital Government, Digital Services, Digital Business Environment, Digital Skills and Digital Safety.

A National Cyber Security Policy and Legal Framework are also under development. These initiatives are critical in the development of a digital economy for Papua New Guinea and to take its place in the modern economy. 

We have also adopted our third Medium Term Development Plan 2018 to 2022 which identifies ICT as a key strategic development priority. ITU’s continued support and guidance will be required in the further planning and implementation of these initiatives. We therefore call on the ITU to remain steadfast in its mission of connecting the world through telecommunication development.

Distinguished delegates,

We believe the PP 2018 will reaffirm the ITU’s commitment to connecting the world. The next couple of weeks provide an ideal opportunity for the Member States and the international community to engage in constructive and collaborative manner, and in the spirit of mutual respect, and move forward on the basis of consensus to ensure that the ITU will continue to play a vital and important role for years to come.

We recognize that the rise and growth of Internet connectivity brings enormous benefits as well as challenges. Creating a framework for equitable access to orbit spectrum resources, enhancing and strengthening ITU regional presence, ensuring telecommunication networks are secure and interoperable, and assisting Members States particularly the developing countries in bridging the digital divide are some of the priorities that should be the focus of the ITU.  

Here in the amazing city of Dubai, we believe this community can further the fruitful collaboration over the last four years that many other speakers have already noted. We believe we can join hands through the next couple of weeks to make a contribution to the fulfillment of a fully inclusive and prosperous information society. 

Let me once again thank our host nation, United Arab Emirates for the very warm hospitality, the excellent facilities and the arrangements for this conference. I also wish to acknowledge the Secretary General, the Directors of BR, TSB and Development Bureau, and the ITU staff for organising the 2018 Plenipotentiary Conference.  My delegation looks forward to working with you all in the next couple of weeks. I wish you all a successful conference.

Thank you for your attention!