Although the risks for those wanting to conduct business operations in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are delicately balanced, the opportunities are obvious. PNG has a stable democratic government, an independent judiciary and a fast growing economy. Those in the mining and petroleum industries are no doubt aware of PNG’s potential. World demand for PNG’s natural resources has placed a huge burden on its already ageing infrastructure such as roads, airports and seaports. As a result, PNG’s infrastructure and human resource issues might offer new opportunities for both local and overseas businesses.
PNG appears to be at a once in a lifetime cross-road. If PNG succeeds in managing its infrastructure and human resource issues it will likely transform its society. The current PNG government lead by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has responded quickly to these challenges by tackling the issues of aging infrastructure and skill shortages through its largest budget ever, which is around $6 billion (AUD).
I have found the PNG people adapt very well to new technology. On a recent walk down the streets of Port Moresby I was surprised at how many people were using mobile phones. Unlike Australia, a mobile phone in PNG can be used not just for texting or calling but also to top-up your home electricity. Currently it is estimated that mobile phone penetration in the PNG market is around 36%. This statistic is impressive considering only a decade ago virtually nobody had a mobile phone.
Well known Irish telecommunications company Digicel has recognised the opportunities in PNG and has taken significant market share of the mobile phone market. It is estimated that BeMobile and Digicel now cover around 75 % of the nearly 7 million population. New players will no doubt be interested in this growing market.
Whichever industry you are in, PNG has a growing economy and offers real opportunities. Together with the fact that infrastructure is ageing and other companies have succeeded in establishing thriving businesses there, PNG has never been at a such an important cross-road.