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Boosting Connectivity In Rural Papua New Guinea

Multistakeholder Policy Dialogue Paves Way For Digital And Financial Transformation

International Telecommunication Union (ITU), under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, started a policy development deliberation to map a course towards strengthened digital inclusion and economic growth in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in partnership with Papua New Guinea's Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National ICT Authority (NICTA), and UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), kicked off a multistakeholder policy dialogue to chart a course towards digital inclusion and economic growth in the Sepik region. This initiative, under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, aims to bridge the digital divide and unlock the potential of mobile broadband and internet access across the region.

Titled "Improving Network Coverage and Expansion and Financial Inclusion in the Sepik," the event brought together key stakeholders – senior officers and representatives from DICT, NICTA, the EU Delegation, prominent telecom operators, and financial institutions. This collaborative spirit underscores the commitment to crafting a comprehensive roadmap, encompassing policy reforms, on-the-ground actions, and robust partnerships between government, private sector, and regulatory bodies.

"The EU-STREIT PNG Programme acts as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration," declared Kanagat Alyshbaev, ITU-STREIT Project Officer. "Today's 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."

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The dialogue's focus extends beyond mere connectivity. It explores the integration of telecommunication services with banking, particularly in remote areas of the Sepik traditionally reliant on cash transactions. This approach aims to not only provide rural communities with reliable internet access but also equip them with comprehensive digital and financial management tools, ultimately paving the way for agribusiness development at the local level.

The EU-STREIT PNG Programme stands as a testament to the transformative power of collaboration and innovation. By tackling the dual challenges of connectivity and financial literacy, and exploring sustainable solutions, the initiative promises to revolutionize access to crucial 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.

About the EU-STREIT PNG Programme

The EU-STREIT PNG Programme, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is the European Union's largest grant-funded initiative in the country. It focuses on boosting sustainable and inclusive economic development in rural areas. This is achieved by enhancing economic returns and opportunities within cocoa, vanilla, and fisheries value chains. Additionally, the program strengthens and improves the efficiency of value chain enablers, including access to ICT and digital financial services. It also supports the development of sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure. The program benefits two provinces: East Sepik and West Sepik.

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