ICT support to Bougainville

As part of the National Government’s commitment through the Joint Supervisory Body, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville stand to benefit from K50 million worth of ICT Infrastructure and services covering the entire island from telecommunications, towers, broadband infrastructure, spectrum management, to radio and television broadcasting under a national government plan approved recently by the Marape-Basil Government.

Minister for Information and Communication Technology Hon. Timothy Masiu made that announcement on the floor of the Bougainville House of Representatives on the 17th of June 2021.

He said that the National Government support to Bougainville is a  long-term plan and the Department of Information and Communication Technology is currently holding preliminary talks with the ABG Department of Technical Services and the National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs so that all parties exchange notes on and are familiar with respective mandates and expectations under the plan.

The Department of Information and Communication Technology is also responsible for establishing a project management unit consisting of the Department itself, the National Coordination Office of Bougainville Affairs and the ABG Department of Technical Services. They have met and are in progress of the project planning.

The K50 million funding will go towards funding the plan in two phases. Phase one covers ICT Sector Infrastructure and services implementation including technical, socio-economic and environmental feasibility studies and the procurement and installation of the infrastructure.

The National Executive Council has approved the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle comprising the ABG Operators, Department of ICT and the National Coordination Office of Bougainville Affairs for the purpose of taking ownership and managing the infrastructure.

“The Special Purpose Vehicle is the business model that will manage the infrastructure that is mindful of the  national government’s Sharp Agreement obligations in relation  to the Bougainville Peace Agreement and its constitutional laws where it requires working together to assist the ABG draw down legislative and administrative powers and functions so that the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are able to and capable of managing telecommunications, information technology and radio and television broadcasting services on the ground”.

Minister Masiu said that agencies under his Ministry such as NICTA, National Broadcasting Corporation and the Department of Information and Communication Technology will prioritize implementation of the ICT plan on Bougainville as part of core business, consistent with a circular directive released to heads of departments and agencies last month by Prime Minister Hon. James Marape.