Digicel Rigs Up State-Of-The-Art Communications for Papua New Guinea

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern part of the world's second largest island and is prey to volcanic activity, earthquakes and tidal waves. Linguistically, it is the world's most diverse country, with more than 700 native tongues. About 80 percent of its people live in rural areas with few or no facilities of modern life. Many tribes in the isolated mountainous interior have little contact with one another, let alone with the outside world, and live without a monetary economy, dependent on subsistence agriculture. However, things are set to change through telecommunications services, which will help to improve the lives of those living even the remotest regions in Papua New Guinea.

Digicel Asia-Pacific, a digital communications leader in developing markets, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) to make digital communications, solar power and data services more available here. BCtA is a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts to fight poverty through its core business. It is supported by several international organisations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme. Ultimately, it will help even the most isolated communities to enter the digital age.

With a population of 7.3 million, Papua New Guinea is the largest economy among developing countries in the Pacific region, yet the island country’s rough terrain and lack of infrastructure isolates 85 percent of its people who live outside cities. Till now, only 10 percent of the total households in Papua New Guinea are connected to the national electricity grid. Digicel aims to extend 3G coverage to more than 80 percent of the population by 2020 and expand mobile penetration to 60 percent of the population. This will mean that villagers will soon be able to use mobile phones to access their bank accounts; fishermen and farmers will be able to check market prices for their produce.  

Also, by working with both local and international partners, Digicel is committed to see the use of solar power increase dramatically in areas where access to electricity for recharging is limited. This access to solar power would not only facilitate greater connectivity, but will enable millions of people to cost-effectively and efficiently cook and light their homes while allowing children to study after dark and spur economic development. Solar power will also reduce indoor air pollution and mitigates the risk of fires started by kerosene lamps, candles and wood burning. It will allow more people to keep their devices charged, giving them greater access to communication and information via voice, SMS and data services.

The company has already invested over US$800 million in Papua New Guinea. Its inclusive business model aims to significantly narrow the ‘digital divide’ between Papua New Guinea’s urban and rural areas, fostering state-of-the-art communications between the country’s remote regions and the rest of the world. This all helps to fuel developing economies, opening rural people’s access to communications and fostering education, expanding livelihoods and ultimately promoting greater participation in society.

Photo Credit: Digicel/3BL Media