PNG-Indonesia cooperation will 'uplift communities', PM James Marape says

5:57 pm on 17 August 2023
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (L) is greeted by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape at APEC Haus ahead of bilateral meetings in Port Moresby.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (L) is greeted by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape at APEC Haus ahead of bilateral meetings in Port Moresby. Photo: ANDREW KUTAN/AFP

Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian governments will continue efforts to enhance bilateral relations, Prime Minister James Marape said on Thursday, as he announced Jakarta's plans to provide electricity to the town of Vanimo in Sepik Province.

The PNG Office of the Prime Minister said in a statement that Marape "is spearheading a proactive approach to leverage" relations between the two nations "focusing on initiatives such as affordable electricity along the shared border and collaborative road networks".

It comes after the Indonesian President Joko Widodo's visit to Port Moresby early in July, when Widodo met Marape and the two leaders ratified a border agreement, as well as agreements on customs and trans-national crime, to strengthen economic opportunities.

Indonesia also agreed to sponsor 2000 PNG students to attend university in Indonesia, and had pledged $15 million to upgrade Port Moresby's hospital.

Indonesian Ambassador to PNG, Andriana Supandy, updated Marape "on the ongoing progress of the electricity supply project from Jayapura to Vanimo", according to the Prime Minister's office.

"Embracing the economic opportunities facilitated by Indonesia is a call to action for the people of Papua New Guinea," he said.

"Our joint endeavours encompass a range of strategic initiatives, including enhancing access to affordable electricity along the border and collaborating on essential road infrastructure.

"While the Indonesia-PNG border historically represented a political divide, our commitment is now geared towards its transformation into a thriving economic hub," he said.

Marape said the initiative would "uplift communities in northern towns like Vanimo and Wewak, extending its impact to Kiunga and Daru in the south".

He added the shared road links between the countries would "foster connectivity along the border".

Sovereignty can coexist harmoniously with collaborative resource-sharing, he said.

"The proactive measures taken by both nations are poised to reshape regional dynamics, charting a course towards robust economic growth and shared development."

Indonesian scholarships

In another statement, Marape called on the country's education department to facilitate the "immediate utilisation" of the 2000 scholarships offered by Indonesia.

He said hat for every student that takes up a Indonesia scholarship, his government would reciprocate by sponsoring another PNG student, calling it "a novel approach to fostering educational growth".

"This opportunity presented by Indonesia is invaluable, and we must seize it with urgency," Marape said.

"By providing our youth access to international education, we are equipping them to make meaningful contributions to our nation's progress.

"This endeavour aligns seamlessly with our commitment to providing quality education, exemplified by our STEM students pursuing studies in the USA, with funding from the Papua New Guinea government."