Papua New Guinea caretaker Prime Minister James Marape has welcomed the completion of Telstra’s acquisition of Digicel Pacific last week, saying it demonstrates international confidence in the national economy.
He said the government had liberalised the telecommunications market, “so that we attract important investments, and build important competition pressure in the marketplace, which translates into low-cost communication charges, and high penetration in a country that remains largely disconnected.”
Marape said Telstra’s acquisition of Digicel Pacific was a “strong vote of confidence in our economy”.
“The acquisition will enable our link to the outside world much faster and deeper,” he said.
“I want Telstra to maintain links all over our country especially in the unconnected pockets of our out-of-reach communities, and to grow those links.
“The completion of this acquisition also presents an opportunity for the PNG stakeholders to work on possible participation in the telecommunication business.”
He urged Telstra “to interface with Telikom”, and under the Telstra PNG subsidiary, PNG stakeholders could be offered up to 50 per cent equity”.
Marape said telecommunication services were critical to PNG’s social and economic development.
“It has the potential to address education and health concerns and will build a strong resilient population who are aware of what is going on,” he said.
“Wherever possible, infrastructure sharing will be encouraged, reducing the need to erect several towers at the same location.
“Telikom will welcome the opportunity to collocate on Digicel infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, Information, Communications and Technology Minister Timothy Masiu has commended Telstra for its completion of the Digicel Pacific acquisition in partnership with the Australian government.
“I could not be happier for the caretaker government and the consumers throughout the Pacific, and in particular Papua New Guinea who stand to benefit from a competition standpoint,” he said.
“It is also welcome news when you see and read about an Australian business icon inheriting a successful business.
“It says so much about investor confidence within the Pacific and in PNG.”
Masiu said while deal would have its detractors he said this was one move in a push for influence in the Pacific region by major powers.
“Geopolitics has a place in the sun as long as calculated risks are taken after balancing national, consumer, economic and political interests, amongst other considerations,” he said.
“Geopolitics and the push for influence within the Pacific neighbourhood by super powers is something that any sovereign government has to deal with at the bilateral and multilateral level and the caretaker PNG government is no exception.”
Masiu said the national government had considered all aspects and had assessed and approved the acquisition through regulators such as ICCC (Independent Consumer and Competition Commission) and Nicta (National Information and Communications Technology Authority).