| The Yegiora Files | Edited
MADANG - Technology is increasingly becoming an important part of human life and most of what we do today is influenced by our use of technology.
As a developing country, Papua New Guinea is seeing technological changes unfold with the help of China.
The changes happening in PNG fit into the Digital Silk Road timeline introduced by China’s president Xi Jinping.
We have witnessed Huawei’s establishment of the Kumul submarine cable network for PNG Dataco. All coastal provinces are now connected.
The Digital Silk Road project has been developed in three parts:
A 5,457 km submarine cable laid from Indonesia to Bougainville with branches into Vanimo, Wewak, Lorengau, Madang, Kimbe, Kavieng and Kokopo. Completed in May 2020.
Connection of Port Moresby to Madang with branches to Alotau, Popondetta and Lae. Completed in February 2020.
Connection of Kerema to Daru. Completed in June 2020.
Huawei constructed the submarine cable and China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation supplied the equipment. The Exim Bank of China provided more than 85% credit to the PNG government to start the project.
In 2013, Huawei had been contracted by PNG Telikom to establish the national broadband network. At the signing ceremony in Port Moresby, Huawei Global chief financial officer Cathy Meng applauded both Telikom and the PNG government for implementing what she called “this visionary project.”
PNG Dataco had completed the Highlands cable project in January 2016. The fibre optic cable known as the northern link runs alongside PNG Power transmission lines connecting Madang and Lae to all Highlands provinces.
In February 2016, it was decided to connect the northern link in Mendi to the southern link, which runs from Port Moresby to Hides. This missing link connection enables high speed internet to many facilities including the new Western Pacific University.
Huawei has built the high-speed broadband backbone network it promised, and PNG is now well connected and has a second international internet gateway through Indonesia to the rest of Asia.
In 2013, Huawei’s Cathy Meng said PNG would reap the benefits of high speed broadband and this is now happening. Competition is also driving prices down.
Credit to Huawei, PNG is now venturing into e-commerce and emerging entrepreneurs and established businesses are grateful for the faster and cheaper internet.
Instead of using just websites, entrepreneurs and businesses now use social media. Facebook and LinkedIn, two social media sites much used in PNG, are popular sites for new and established businesses to reach customers.
The PNG government is not concerned about the security issues expressed by Australia.
Commerce and industry minister William Duma said PNG does not have enemies and is not worried about Huawei having access to the national network.
PNG sees Huawei as a genuine investor in the telecommunication sector and as a development partner.
The government had made a bold decision to reject a counter offer by Australia, Japan and the United States to build the domestic cable.
All three countries had the opportunity over the years to help PNG build its domestic network and so improve the livelihood of citizens.
PNG’s Institute of National Affairs has stated that the Coral Sea cable from Sydney to Port Moresby remains unconnected. I wonder if this because of concern there may be a security issue. Or was the delay caused by in-house politics between different state agencies?
In any case, it seems that Huawei will dominate the software and hardware markets for internet technology in PNG.
The company signed a memorandum of understanding with Telikom which allows the state-owned utility to be the authorised distributor of Huawei ideahub. Telikom also sells the Huawei B315 hardware modem to all of its broadband fixed line service customers.
Apart from the 25 students from the University of Technology in Lae who went to China for training after the signing of the national network contract, Huawei should train more PNG students to continue PNG's digital rise.