Papua New Guinea National E-Commerce Assessment

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The Pacific Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2020-2025 has put much emphasis on the E-Commerce aspect such that the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has taken the initiative to lead the Island Countries in this major project. The Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) along with other PIFS countries are coming up with the initiative of establishing a platform for E-Commerce for a more inclusive society via the adoption of various ICT policies. International Economics Consulting Ltd undertook an E-Commerce Assessment to analyze the e-commerce environment of PNG, thereby to identify growth opportunities and develop a roadmap for PNG to be used as a guide.

The main obstacles that are slowing down or hindering PNG’s development are:

  • High cost of internet and Limited network coverage,
  • Complex topography in terms of weak road network,
  • Poor logistics and transport infrastructure,
  • Low level of financial inclusion with only 37% population having a bank account and
  • Poor legal & regulatory framework – more specifically for consumer protection and data privacy & data protection.

Despite the low level of financial inclusion, PNG suffers from proper access to finance. Around 70% of PNG’s population borrow money from their relatives and wantoks and moneylenders. Moreover, only 5% of PNG’s inhabitants resort to formal institutions. Although business accelerators and incubator programs are slowly being established throughout the country, the inhabitants of PNG are still far away from resorting to such means as the new norm.

To overcome its difficulties, PNG has taken some initiatives and policy decisions to speed up its country’s E-Commerce development that include Expansion of network of 3G and 4G towers, Implementation towards a national Electrical Single Window, Promotion campaigns to open bank account and to establish a central payment scheme, and to Carry regulatory gap analysis on E-Commerce and the drafting of laws in terms of consumer protection and data privacy.

A 5-phased approach was used for the project, based partly on the e-Trade for All methodology developed and owned by UNCTAD as well as methodologies utilized by other international agencies such as the World Bank, ITC and UNECAP. Phase 1 consists of Stakeholder engagement and literature review. Phase 2 relates to the Online survey customisation and dissemination and preparation of baseline indicators. Phase 3 relates to the Report writing of the draft national E-commerce assessment and stakeholder review. Phase 4 concerns the Virtual consultations and completion of the Assessment while the last phase, which is Phase 5, consists of the Finalisation and Validation of the Assessment.

The Report can be downloaded directly from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s website.