2018 APEC CEO Survey

Building PNG's inclusive and digital economy

Embracing a digital future

Distance education via e-learning, access to financial services via mobile banking, a better understanding of health and well-being via personal wearable devices, direct access by producers to overseas buyers via apps, and optimised outputs for farmers and mine operators via IoT sensors in agricultural soil and remote mines. For some people in developed nations, this is their everyday life. But for PNG, this is the digital future that its people are aspiring for. This is just one part of our digital future.

How can we create a digital future in an economy where less than 20% have access to 3G/4G services?

What must we do to ensure that everyone in PNG can experience its benefits?

Viewpoints of local business leaders

Are PNG businesses thinking digital?

PNG business confidence has grown since 2016 with 71% of PNG business leaders in 2018 confident on their organisation’s revenue growth prospects over the next 12 months. Business confidence is reflected in investment intentions with more than half planning an investment increase while almost a third will maintain current levels.

But what is driving business optimism and what are businesses investing in?

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Grooming digital champions

In a recent PwC study of digital operations in companies across 26 countries, we noted a range of activity separating novices, followers and innovators from real digital champions. Where in the digital spectrum would PNG businesses lie?

We asked business leaders to assess their competitiveness against rivals, probing their views on what digital means to them in PNG.

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Nurturing greenshoots

Getting the right people, with the right skills and the right mindset is key to transitioning from manual to more automated, low-data to high-data, physical to digital interfacing jobs.

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Making digital synonymous with inclusive

Access to basic connectivity is key to realising PNG’s digital future.

The potential of e-commerce and mobile platforms to increase access to information, connect rural enterprises to new markets, empower the participation of women in the formal economy, and facilitate remote education and the delivery of healthcare services has been proven in other economies.

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Jonathan Seeto on PNG findings of the APEC CEO Survey and showcasing PNG's potential through APEC

Building PNG’s inclusive and digital economy


Digital infrastructure and digital literacy go hand-in-hand. A two pronged approach and a conscious effort to ensure accessibility to a broad segment of the population is needed to shape PNG’s digital future.

In the long term:

  • Prioritise initiatives to increase access to electricity and water.
  • Expand coverage and accelerate the development of digital infrastructure across PNG.

What we can do now:

  • Educate and train the workforce to improve their skills and get them to be more comfortable with new technologies.
  • Initiate improvements to the education system and policies to encourage more STEM professionals.


Nurturing greenshoots means creating an environment where digital natives, entrepreneurs and businesses can thrive.

In the long term:

  • Create a supportive regulatory/policy environment.
  • Develop an attractive talent pool and pipeline.

What we can do now:

  • Introduce training and/or support programmes for employees and aspiring entrepreneurs focused on innovation and new digital businesses.
  • Encourage partnerships between larger enterprises and startups as the latter build capacity and scale up.


Dare to dream and graduate from digital novice or follower to a digital champion.

In the long term:

  • Aim to be highly competitive not just in skills development and data management, but also in areas where PNG businesses are currently lagging behind competitors: digital product development and data infrastructure.

What we can do now:

  • Explore the art of the possible today. Digital transformation is a journey which involves the creation of an ecosystem encompassing technology, operations, people and customer interaction – it does not happen overnight.

Contact us

Jonathan Seeto

Managing Partner, PwC Papua New Guinea

Tel: +675 321 1500 | 305 3100

Peter Burnie

Partner, PwC Papua New Guinea

Tel: +675 321 1500 | 305 3100

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