PORT MORESBY – The United States, New Zealand and Japan announced on Sunday a joint partnership to boost availability of electricity in Papua New Guinea during the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Currently, only around 13% of its population have reliable access to electricity and the partnership hopes to help Papua New Guinea achieve its goal of connecting 70% of its population to electricity by 2030.
“Access to electricity is key to Papua New Guinea’s economic growth. Electricity lifts the living standards of communities in cities, towns and remote villages. It allows schools and hospitals to deliver essential services,” the countries said in a joint statement.
US Vice President Mike Pence said that Papua New Guinea should see the project as a firm commitment of these countries toward improving living conditions in the country.
Along with Pence, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison were present at the APEC summit.
“The Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership is intended to focus on the importance of principles-based, sustainable infrastructure development that is transparent, non-discriminatory, environmentally responsible, promotes fair and open competition, upholds robust standards, meets the genuine needs of the people of Papua New Guinea and avoids unsustainable debt burdens,” the statement said.
In parallel events held on the sidelines of the APEC summit, several leaders also criticized the Chinese Belt and Road initiative that seeks to boost investments in infrastructure and soft loans in the developing countries of the Indo-Pacific with an aim to expand its influence in the zone.
In a speech earlier on Saturday, Pence had slammed China’s opaque chequebook diplomacy and said that its projects led to overwhelming debt.
On Friday, China and Papua New Guinea also announced an agreement to strengthen economic cooperation and investment, including extension of China’s Ramu nickel mine in the country.