“We've 87 youths registered and expect 250 to join by the end of this week” – Joseph hopes his jobs scheme will promote an app to track illegal logging
PORT MORESBY - One beautiful rainy day, somewhere in the National Capital District of the largest island in the Pacific, I was having a cigarette under the cover of my car garage.
I was severely stressed out because a geographic information system I had designed and built to track illegal logging operations in Papua New Guinea was gaining no support.
I couldn’t seem to get anyone interested in it.
Governor Gary Juffa hadn’t replied to my emails.
Associate professor Dr Colin Filer of the ANU had told me that Japanese consultants had already built one for PNG.
Japanese consultants? But I have one ready to go.
“Bro, you have a spare smoke?”
One of the neighbourhood youths was wanting shelter from the rain.
I waved him into the garage and handed him my half smoke.
Then I ranted to him in Tok Pisin, explaining the two billion kina a year illegal logging industry.
A report from Chatham House found that 70% of logging in PNG is illegal.
I told him I was developing satellite technology that could monitor large portions of land as part of a conservation effort.
He smiled, and said, “That’s all good… but you should make something that gives us boys a job!”
I don’t know why this bothered me, but it did. Until then I thought my mission of ending illegal logging was most important.
But I saw the desperation in his eyes. Once you see that look, it cannot be unseen it. Now I see it everywhere I go.
Fast forward two months and the 2022 general elections have hit peak politicking.
But more importantly I have helped solve a job problem by creating ‘The Urban Eden Project’.
It’s a web-based application that provides temporary employment opportunities to youths who register online.
In this case, the goal is to get a workforce together for quick weekend garden restoration projects within the National Capital District.
This is not theory; it’s real.
We currently have 87 youths registered and expect 250 youths to join by the end of this week.
I expect this number to reach 900 by the end of May.
This is how it works (Department of Planning and Monitoring please take note, I’m about to teach a masterclass).
I created a job organisation system backed up by on online payment system. I wanted The Urban Eden Project to be a cashless experience.
No more long lines at Bank South Pacific. As soon as a job becomes available all registered members get a notification and a FIFO (first in, first on) system applies.
This basically means that whoever signs up for the job will be guaranteed a spot until all vacancies for the project are filled.
Then those bodies all meet at a central location and we drive them to the site.
They work for an intense four hours …. digging, planting, weeding, cleaning and beautifying.
After the job, the money they have earned is immediately transferred into their accounts.
The hardest part of this has been trying to attract Governor Powes Parkop’s attention.
I didn’t want to write him a letter which would be put it into a brown paper envelope and passed along to some lowly government worker with an inflated ego and a sense that, if it is someone else’s idea, it must be bad.
I had to outsmart the system; get around it to do some good. Productive stealth.
So I spent two months building a cloud-based solution to address the high unemployment rate within the NCD.
If this doesn’t get Mr Parkop’s attention then I shall simply shut down my business operations and move to Alicante in Spain.
It sounds like quite a nice laid back place, the Costa Blanca.
(As a matter of interest, it’s also headquarters of the European Union Intellectual Property Office.)
My best friend lives there. He’s on the board of directors of the Lausanne (Switzerland) based Fondation Eagle (Eagle Foundation), a Swiss-registered charity that funds medical research and projects directed at women and children in need.
So I'm hoping to get TB medication for Sir Joseph Nombri Hospital in Kundiawa.
I've been working with NCD provincial health authority CEO, Dr Steven Yennie, and I know PNG has pretty much run out of tuberculosis medication.
Maybe I can do something about it.
Joseph Kanene is the founder of Linezie Data Analytics