- Simple steps that farmers and consumers do to obtain fresh produce information are:
- Create new text message
- Type code for crop (eg: CAB for cabbage)
- Type the word PRICE Send text to 4636
Dec 8 2009
With a sound investment of over K450 million in the last two years, Papua New Guinea’s fast growing mobile phone service provider, Digicel PNG limited has welcomed government’s move to set up an independent Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regulator.
The company said it is ready to comply with whatever new changes the new ICT policy may bring with the formation of the new National Information Communication Authority (NICTA) when it commences full operation in April, 2010.
Chief Executive Officer John Mangos told the Sunday Chronicle in an interview he is happy with the ICT bill and said it will open up competition in many areas of the ICT industry and various types of licensing that it brings.
“It’s unlike before where the law only allowed for mobile service licensing but with the new ICT bill the number of license is not limited. This law seems to be promoting and promulgating open competition and the consequence of that should be a drop in prices.”
Meanwhile, with Digicel having its own international gateway, it has faced legal tussle by the state-run Telikom PNG in previous years though was “under consent”.
But in the recent ICT bill the government through the Minister for Communication and Information, Patrick Tammur made provisions to deal with Digicel’s International Gateway, which will see NICTA to issue to Digicel a network licence to operating an international gateway.
“It is not intended by this provision to discriminate in favour of Digicel. Rather the provision is aimed at making clear that NICTA will issue a network licence that will take away legal uncertainty surrounding Digicel’s international gateway.” The government expects that Digicel’s current court proceedings concerning its international gateway will now be withdrawn,” Minister Tamer said.
However, when Mr. Mangos was asked about this he said ‘that’s the expected outcome, it is still in discussions.”
“This is the first evidence, it’s not simple to withdraw, and there’s lots of work to be done. But on the whole, it’s a very good step forward and the government has a good framework in place.”
Also commenting on the same issue Telikom PNG’s Acting Head of Corporate Services, Aura Tara vatu said they were prepared to adapt to any changes the new policy may bring.
Ever since the policy came out Telecom PNG was already preparing to embrace the new change.” When asked to comment on the termination of Telikom’s regulatory contract under the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) Act, Mr Taravatu said it was anticipated to occur.
“The regulatory contract has been repealed, it’s expected to happen. We are not singled out but rather the law gives us the opportunity to migrate license to three tier licenses. We are now like everyone else and our rights will still be intact as an industry.”
He said currently Telikom PNG is under general carrier license but it will take time to migrate to other three tier licenses which include Network Licenses, Applications Licenses and Content Licences.
Wednesday 04 Nov 2009
The Pacific Islands regions consists of 22 countries and territories1, some of which, such as the islands of French Polynesia, are still colonial possessions and lacking independent legislative and administrative mechanisms. Of these 22, seven countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and a further three countries/ territories have ratified it in conjunction with New Zealand (as they were or are still New Zealand territories). These ten are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokolau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In September 2009, the Tongan Parliament voted overwhelmingly not to ratify CEDAW, with only one vote against the decision. A press statement by the Prime Minister’s Office says, “The Legislative Assembly believed that to ratify CEDAW would cut across our cultural and social heritage that makes up the Tongan way of life. It would require the creation of fundamental changes for every Tongan citizen to a way of life and social organisation that has sustained Tonga to date.” While claiming that this does not mean that the Tongan government lacks respect for women’s rights, one of the concerns was that it would mean that women removing restrictions on women inheriting land2.
Myriad issues in the Pacific Islands, including both VAW and ICT development, are affected by the ongoing issue of colonisation in the region and by the geography of the region. In terms of colonisation, part of the region are claimed by the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Indonesia, among others. In some cases, such as the US involvement of Guam and Indonesia’s claim over West Papua, this involvement includes a heavy military prescence, which has knock-on effects on perceptions of violence in general and violence against women in particular3. This is also true in independent countries such as Fiji, where the civilian coup of May 2000 has had a direct impact on violence against women, according to Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, while the impact of the 2007 coup on VAW remains uncertain – though she asserts that it has led to a deprioritising of the women’s rights agenda4.
The geography of the region has had an obvious impact on ICT development. Consisting of up to 20,000 islands, with two of the world’s three least populated nations being in the Pacific Islands (Nauru and Tuvalu), the challenges in providing all parts of the region with basic ICT infrastructure are immense. This is compounded by the poverty and lack of resources of many of the island nations. All these factors in turn have an impact on VAW – whether it is in the resources needed to police existing legislation or in the capacity to formulate legislation.
Both at an official level and among NGOs there is a high degree of regional cooperation. In terms of the women’s movement, the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence was formed in 1992, initiated by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre. The network consists of 23 organisations in 10 countries across the Pacific, and has been at the forefront of pushing for greater legislative protection for women against violence. However, there is a high degree of cultural tolerance for VAW, for example, when the Fiji legislative assembly was faced with the third reading of a bill on family law, initiated by the women’s movement, objections included:
Women are followers of men, the Bible says so. The Bill would upset God’s natural order by granting women equality and thereby encouraging them to leave their husbands;
The Bill was anti-Christian and anti-Fijian;
Only adultery was a valid ground for divorce in the Bible if at all, violence certainly was not;
It gave children rights over their parents which was against Fijian tradition;
It would destroy the essential nature of Fijian indigenous society;
It was against the chiefly system because illegitimate children would have rights to be traditional chiefs5.
Legislation on VAW has come under persistent scrutiny by women’s rights advocates, for being “outdated and treat(ing) women with indifference despite the globally high rates of VAW in the Pacific region”6. In a press statement from March 2009, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resources Team’s gender and human rights advisor P. Imrana Jalal commended three nations, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu, for making progress in changing laws to be more in line with women’s aspirations to recognition of equality. However, of the three only Vanuatu passed legislation on domestic violence, the other two extending or improving legislation covering sexual assault.
In June 2009, the UN Expert Group on Good Practices in Legislation to Address Harmful Practices Against Women, meeting in Addis Ababa, heard about the current status of VAW legislation in the Pacific. That only Samoa had made progress on legislation on domestic violence – it is planning to pass legislation – indicates that although the women’s movement has suceeded in getting governments to recognise the importance of VAW, there is a need to see stronger commitments across the region7.
In this context, there has been little done to address the issue of how ICTs either contribute to VAW or how they can help to provide new spaces to empower women. One of the few initiatives that Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls highlighted in an interview was that of the suitcase radio, a mobile community radio run by FemLINKPACIFIC. This initiative has been successful in empowering women, both in giving them access to the airwaves and in providing information on a range of issues that impact on women. However, the lack of a regulatory framework for community radio in any of the Pacific Island nations means that there are no guarantees that the model and lessons learned from this experience will be repeated elsewhere. Ms Bhagwan-Rolls says that this problem of applying appropriate technology is just one of the challenges faced by the few people doing work on VAW and ICTs in the Pacific.
SR: How have new communications technologies impacted negatively on VAW – have there been new types of VAW (such as online stalking and harassment), or new ways of monitoring women living with violence?
SBR: I am beginning to hear more and more about the use of mobile phone technology being used, for example, to document women and girls in situations. These images are not used to raise alerts but actually to “share the images” as a joke. This phenomena needs more investigation, as it is uncertain how widespread it is. In June this year, the Cook Islands News reported the circulation of images of the alleged rape of a young woman, who was only 12 years old.
SR: How has the women’s movement in the region reacted to these changes, if any?
SBR: I have not noticed much in the way of women addressing the linkage between violence and ICT – maybe because the roll-out to this technology is slower than it is in the Asian region, but I think the examples we have heard about the issues as experienced by sisters in Asia need to serve as an early warning.
SR: Has the women’s movement been active in the policy process on the use and regulation of ICTs? Could you give some details?
SBR: FemLINKPACIFIC is one of the few women’s NGOs addressing ICT policy – very few have involved themselves either pre- or post-WSIS. At FemLINKPACIFIC, we have focussed mostly on community radio and broadcasting legislation, rather than the internet or mobile phone policy. However, that is because the government process does not involve women at all …and we have to keep knocking on their door rather than them even considering the impact.
There is a need to take this up at the regional level, as there is a Pacific Digital Strategy in place and there is a need to consider the impact of ICT content both from a cultural perspective and also with social and gender analysis.
SR: How has the women’s movement used ICTs to help combat VAW?
SBR: Not too sure from the perspective of addressing domestic violence but there is also the need to consider violence in its broadest form eg in Fiji – sending messages of solidarity and other information. An issue is cost for the women, as many of them do not have the available funds to afford the luxury and there is no free service.
SR: What are the pitfalls in the women’s movement’s use of ICTs (eg is there a problem of appropriate technology, use of resources etc)?
SBR: Very much the issue of appropriate technology and also access to resources. Women have to be seen as more than passive users of the technology.
1 TIMELY AND COMPREHENSIVE MOVE TO OPEN COMPETITION
The move to open competition should be comprehensive and implemented on a timely basis, subject to transitional arrangements and the time required for proper formulation and introduction of new regulatory structures.
Under a substantially revised licensing regime, existing licensees and new entrants should be able to identify where and how they wish to compete within the terms of new individual and class licences. Such entities should have a greater ability to tailor their individual operations to match their chosen business model.
The existing approach of dividing telecommunications markets based on technology and reserved rights should be replaced with a licensing regime that is more technologically neutral and therefore better reflects PNG’s technologically-convergent markets.
A move to such a technology-neutral licensing regime does not imply a change in Government Policy with respect to the number of mobile operators or of broadcasters.
However, the new regime will be capable of accommodating such a change, should one occur, which is a matter that would have to be determined by Government Policy and the ICT Regulator operating within the framework of PNG law.
2 LIBERALISATION OF INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY SERVICES
Immediate liberalisation of the international gateway should occur by permitting all network licensees to operate international gateways if they meet certain minimum licensing criteria.
Liberalising the gateway in this way means operators can secure a legal substitute to Telikom’s international links. This creates an opportunity for Telikom to maximise the commercial potential of its assets but with the competitive discipline imposed by the alternatives available.
International gateway infrastructure should initially be exempted from the access regime in order to preserve investment incentives. However, that exemption should be subject to periodic review with regard to competition criteria.
3 A NEW ACCESS REGIME FOR WHOLESALE SERVICES
The cooperative development of important ICT infrastructure should be encouraged by implementing a new regulatory regime for wholesale access and interconnection. The amended regime should address weaknesses in the current regulatory regime by extending the potential scope of regulatory protection and ensuring that regulation is more efficiently and predictably applied.
Specifically, certain services such as fixed terminating access, mobile terminating access, domestic backhaul, inter-carrier roaming and co-location (tower sharing) should be deemed to be declared services within these new access arrangements. Other wholesale services should be capable of being declared by the Minister on recommendation by the ICT Regulator.
Declaration of additional services should occur based on whether access to the facility or service provided over the facility is essential to the promotion of competition. In considering this, the ICT Regulator must take into account:
- whether the facility to which access is sought is provided exclusively or predominantly by a single or very limited number of suppliers;
- whether the facility can be economically or technically substituted in order to provide the service;
- whether lack of access would pose a barrier to entry that is likely to make otherwise efficient entry into the market uneconomic; and
- whether access would compromise the incentives for otherwise efficient investment, including as a result of creating undesirable regulatory risk.
Once services are declared, licensees should continue to commercially negotiate their terms of access and facilities sharing. However, if such commercial negotiations fail, licensees should have the ability to seek arbitration from the ICT Regulator.
The ICT Regulator should resolve arbitrations by identifying reasonable terms with regard to legislated price and non-price principles.
These recommendations take the current negotiate/arbitrate model that applies only to interconnection services, extending a refined model to a greater range of services.
4 REMOVAL OF RETAIL PRICE REGULATION
The implementation of more effective and efficient access regulation will enhance the competitive disciplines applied to retail pricing, hence existing retail regulation will become redundant and potentially harmful. Existing retail price regulation should therefore be removed from mobile and fixed network services.
5 A NEW UNIVERSAL ACCESS SCHEME
A new universal access scheme should be developed for the ICT sector that retains existing mobile network mandatory roll-out obligations but improves their effectiveness.
A Rural Communications Fund should also be established. The Fund should be administered by a Board under accountable and transparent Government oversight.
The Rural Communications Fund should be financed by a combination of industry levies, international donor funding and the Government.
6 NEW INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
The introduction of a new regulatory regime calls for a new converged regulator that has all powers and functions for the sector.
PANGTEL should be re-organised and restructured to form this new ICT Regulator.
The new ICT Regulator should be the primary regulator for all issues in the ICT sector, including both telecommunications and broadcasting. It should be required to consult with ICCC on certain competition and economic matters.
The ICCC will continue to administer the competition provisions of the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission Act 2002 (ICCC Act) as applied to the ICT sector.
Tuesday 08 December 2009 | 12:10
The Papua New Guinea government has established an independent ICT regulator. The new National Information Communication Authority (NICTA) will commence operations in April 2010. Mobile operator Digicel PNG has welcomed the new regulator and the new ICT bill which is slated to bring more competition. For Digicel this would also mean that any legal uncertainty around its international gateway should be cleared up and all legal proceedings are expected to be withdrawn.
The constant cycle of upgrading computers can seem like a treadmill with few visible benefits. But instead of putting those computers in a recycling bin, many can still be used – in Papua New Guinea.
The faith-based charity Hope Worldwide collects second-hand computers and ships them north to the schools of PNG, many of which have no computers. The organisation has already supplied computers to more than a dozen schools, including the country’s first solar-powered computer classroom.