Keynote Address By PNG’S Prime Minister Right Hon.James Marape-Official Opening of Coral Sea Cable System-5th June 2020.
I thank you all for coming out today to witness the launch of the Coral Sea Cable here at Kila Barracks, the home of both the Coral Sea Cable and the Kumul Submarine Cable.
Completion of Cable System.
The Cable System was completed in December 2019 and brought into use on Febuary 18,2020 and have been in operation benefiting PNG. Congratulations to DFAT, Dataco and the contractors for this great achievement.
The government of PNG and its people are grateful for the relationship that is forged between PNG and Australia and through that relationship we can now witness the ongoing partnership that our Government’s have had since our independence. As a young nation, we appreciate development partners like Australia who can support our development aspirations.
This massive 4700 km cable between Honiara, Sydney and Port Moresby is Australia’s Flagship investment in PNG’s Information and Communication Technology infrastructure.
This cable has resulted in increase capacity, low latency, increased availability and more importantly reduced cost at the wholesale level.
Coral Sea Cable’s Impact on Internet Pricing in PNG.
In anticipation of the bringing into use the CS2 cable, PNG DataCo has reduced wholesale internet pricing in January 2020 by about 40% to USD98 ork PGK340.00 per Mbps per month and will continue to reduce its wholesale prices as usage volumes increase at the back of bringing into use such infrastructure. All these pricing is now being worked at together with NICTA and the retail operators like Digicel, Telikom and Bemobile so that prices are uniform and cheap throughout the country regardless of where you are located.
Coral Sea Cable’s Economic Impact
The Coral Sea Cable is a key strategic intervention by GOPNG (Government of PNG) through PNG DataCo as part of the National Transmission Network (NTN) to stimulate economic and development opportunities through investment in the digital economy through;
- Economic growth in economic corridors and trade zones creating new business opportunities.
- Attracting new investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism, fisheries and downstream processing to manufacture finished product to access global market
- Creating new job opportunities of our people so that no one would be left behind.
- Enabling e-commerce for trading of goods and services locally and internationally complimented by the Electronic Transaction Bill to be passed in parliament.
- Enabling access to better health care and training across the country
- Enhancing quality education and training of our people through program such as DFAT funded STEM program for Secondary and National High Schools; and
- Helping to improve basic social services and government awareness
Increased Need for ICT Enabled Services Due to Covid-19
Today the world is hard hit by the Covid-19 Pandemic with restrictions on international travel affecting businesses and our citizens, which has triggered a higher dependency on electronic and ICT services. The CS2 is a timely gift to our country to rescue us from our ailing ICT infrastructure and has assisted us to adapt to this New Normal and dependence on technology during this trying time.
I was of the opinion that this cable was a free gift but it seems that we need to pay for our share of co-contribution. Given the difficult times that we are in now, where we need to prioritize our limited resources to deal the the pertinent issues that we now face, can DFAT and the Australian Government consider our request for relief.
Need for Connectivity Outside of Port Moresby and Provincial Townships
The CS2 cable meets our needs for international connectivity into Port Moresby but we have a large population base that lives outside of Port Moresby. We therefore have a lot of work to ensure that the benefits of this infrastructure are redistributed across the country.
I am also pleased to state today that we are also currently witnessing the submarine cable landings in Momase, New Guinea Islands and Papuan regions of the country as part of the whole transformation of the Telecommunication and Information Infrastructure in our country.
Currently the Kumul Submarine Cable Network project is nearing the completion of the cable laying with Daru been completed as well as restoration of the Lae Branch this week. The project will now move into testing and commissioning phase with an aim to bring services onto the network by July 2020.
The NTN when completed will be able to redistribute immerse benefit gained from CS2 cable across the country to where the most of our people live. DataCo is now working with the regulator to ensure that we have a blended uniform wholesale pricing across the country so the least and the remotest parts of PNG can also enjoy the similar pricing and quality of services for ICT services as that in Port Moresby
While we are connecting to all the provincial townships through the Kumul Submarine Cable project, we will still need to extend access to the masses outside of urban centers and make the access affordable. I am aware that there are discussions ongoing to ensure we provide accessibility to our people through various initiatives and partnerships with our development partners of which Australia is an important one.
Two Critical Supporting Government Infrastructure Initiatives
Two of the critical initiatives are the Electrification Program as well as the PNG Connect PNG Economic Road Transport Infrastructure Development Program which have ICT components to help achieve the policy aspirations for our developing country.
We need a coordinated and collaborative approach in our infrastructure rollout programs so when we mobilize to extend the power grid across the country, we are also stringing fiber on the same pylons and poles.
My government’s policy is to ensure Affordable Access to ICT services in our country. This aspiration can be met through various interventions through the portfolios under the two responsible ministers in our mist this morning.
Firstly, we need to implement the SoE restructure with the merging of TPNG and Bmobile to avoid duplication of resources and costs and to ensure the merged entity is able to compete effectively. We also need to expand the National Transmission Network (NTN) beyond the provincial Townships to the population centers in our country.
Secondly, we also need policy and regulatory intervention to create a more vibrant competitive retail market through facilities sharing, number portability, and domestic roaming and maybe measures to ensure that price reductions in the wholesale market are also passed onto the retail market.
I believe, if we can do these simple things right with the help of our development partners we will then be able to transform how our Government delivers services to our people and how our business operate in this digital economy.
Once again, I thank the Government of Australia and her people for funding the Coral Sea System Cable. Please do pass our deepest gratitude to your Hon Prime Minister, Scot Morrison and your Government for this Gift as we celebrate our partnership here during the launching
I would also like to thank the former Prime Minister, Hon.Peter O’neil , MP as under his watch, this project was initiated and secured.
Hon.James Marape, MP
Note: This speech was as released to public media on Friday 6th June 2020 by the Dept of Prime Minister.