Friday 8th November 2013 – St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda. The people of the mining provinces of New Ireland and Enga in Papua New Guinea are set to have access to the very latest in ICT technologies as a result of a partnership between the Papua New Guinea Ministry of Mining, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology and Digicel Group.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the three parties in Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday 5th November 2013 sees the partners committing to a four year programme to deliver a sustained, fully funded ICT programme to the two mining provinces – with a view to building this out to further provinces over time.
The move by the Papua New Guinea Ministry of Mining comes soon after it witnessed the huge success of Antigua and Barbuda’s Government Assisted Technology Endeavour (GATE) whereby thousands of students in the twin island state have access to the very latest educational materials and tools through a partnership with Digicel which provides them with LTE tablets and access to Digicel’s superfast 4G LTE network.
With the PNG pilot programme kicking off as early as the first quarter of 2014, the Ministry of Mining is all set to ensure that the necessary processes are in place to facilitate the programme and to identify and align potential funding sources available to it.
Under the terms of the partnership, Digicel will be responsible for the programme implementation and management – including the provision of broadband connectivity into the provinces as well as the required mobile devices and ICT solutions.
For its part, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology will assist by sharing the learnings and experience taken from its successful GATE initiative in terms of rolling out and leveraging new technologies. It has also agreed to provide 24 full training internship positions each year from the GATE facility.
Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Mining, the Honourable Byron Chan, is excited at the prospects the programme will bring; “Access to technology is a key driver of economic growth and prosperity and a feature of educational excellence. What I have seen with the GATE project in Antigua and Barbuda has impressed and inspired me. By putting tablet computers in the hands of our children and giving them direct access to educational materials wherever they are, we can together ensure that our education enhancement programme sees us preparing them as best as possible by giving them the first class education they deserve.”
The Honourable Dr. Edmond Mansoor, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, commented; “The GATE project was a bold step in preparing our children for success in the future and we are proud of the success we have had to date. To be recognised by our peers in PNG, the third largest island state in the world, as having blazed a trail in this regard is indeed an honour and we stand ready to help them build a sustainable ICT programme which will benefit the provinces for years to come.”
PJ Mara, Board Director of Digicel Group, said; “Our partners in the Governments of PNG and Antigua and Barbuda are to be commended on the technology-based vision they have for the development of their countries and their children. The success of the GATE project in Antigua and Barbuda is testament to the power of putting ICT in people’s hands and we look forward to helping to replicate that success in New Ireland, Enga and beyond.”