The PNG Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has a rich history going as far as 1955 pre-independence. The DICT was initially established in 1955 as the Department of Posts and Telegraph by the Australian colonial administration. At this time, the Department consisted of 42 post offices across the then colony of Papua and New Guinea 17 telephone exchanges operated by hand-wound magnetos.
In 1964, a plan for a national telephone system in PNG was drawn up when a Telecommunication Division of the Department of Posts and Telegraph was established and ‘overseas’ expert advice was sought from Australia. A telephone service was subsequently introduced.
In 1973, the Department was reestablished as the Department of Information and Communication Services was established when the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was set up to take over the PNG branch of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The NBC became the broadcasting arm of the department. This was a vital event in PNG’s history. Given the very rugged topography and the isolation of many clans, radio played a crucial role in the dissemination of information throughout the land, using an extensive network of provincial radio stations. Radio has subsequently played a huge role in building a more cohesive society from what was then more than 1000 diverse tribes.
After gaining independence from Australia in September 1975, the Department of Information and Communication Services became responsible for information services, communication policy, and research and development while the newly formed Department of Public Utilities took over the functions and the responsibilities of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and became the Division of Postal and Telecommunication Services (DPTS). DPTS continued to function as a separate organization until it was incorporated as the Post and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC) in October 1982.
On 9 September 1981 an executive steering committee was set up to examine ways and means of making a change in the status of the Postal and Telecommunications Services Division to a ‘legal commercial entity’. This committee presented its report to the (then) National Executive Committee (NEC; effectively the Cabinet) on 16 December 1981 and the NEC gave approval to draft enabling legislation. The Post and Telecommunication Corporation Act 1982 was passed by the National Parliament on 15 February 1982. Due to a change in government policy in 1996, the PTC was split up and corporatized. The split saw the creation of Telikom PNG Ltd, Post PNG Ltd, and the PNG Telecommunications Authority (PANGTEL; now NICTA).
In 1997, the Department of Information and Communication Services was reduced to the Office of Information and Communication and there were tighter constraints on its resources. This resulted in a situation where it was not able to implement its mandated responsibilities.
After the 2002 general elections, however, a new government established the Department of Public Enterprises, Information and Development Corporation (DPEIDC). Its core functions included national information and communication policy, rural connectivity and development, and the integrated government information system. It was also required under the government’s Medium Term Development Strategy (2005–10) to expand telecommunication infrastructure and services. With the re-establishment of the Ministry for Information and Communication Services in 2007, all matters relating to PANGTEL (now NICTA), NBC and the Office of Information and Communication were placed under its administration.
On 13 August 2020, NEC renamed the Department to Department of Information and Communications Technology to which the Department maintains policy and service delivery oversight and coordination.
The Department has come a long way since 1955. Under NEC Decision 252/2020, the Department is going through major reform and restructure with a specific focus on a Digital Government to ensure people access government services through Information & Communication Technology.