With 'Unity in diversity' being its motto, Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally rich nations on the planet. Over 850 languages are spoken by the various communities which are scattered across the vast landscape of the country.
After a 2011 census it was estimated that 7,059,653 lived in Papua New Guinea. Despite a steady growth in population since the mid 19th century PNG remains out of the top 200 most densely populated nations on Earth.
According to the world bank only 18 percent of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas. The country is notorious for its isolated communities which live within thick rainforest which covers 74% of the country.
Papua New Guinea is classed as a developing country. It's HDI of 0.516 ranks it at just 154th in global rankings. A number of alarming statistics demonstrate various issues in the country such as its extraordinarily high homocide rate of 10.4 murders per 100,000 people. This is very high for a country which hasn't been involved in conflict since the 1980s.
The country has experienced steady economic growth of around 3% for a number of years up to 8% in 2014 thanks to strengths within the country's mining industry. However this will only be temporary and GDP will not not rise in the long term if the country does not make certain efforts to tap into its young workforce.
Whereas some developing country's have struggled to industrialise due to a lack of resources such as capital or fertile land to feed a growing population. PNG has good mineral resources such as metal ores and the country has fertile land in abundance. Over the last 25 years the country's forest has depleted by only 0.2%.
Many of the country's communities are completely autonomous which means that the government's resources shouldn't be strained by its welfare programs.
The issue is that the government is not receiving any revenue through taxes from much of its population as many Papua New Guineans have no registered employment despite the UNDP estimating that 68.1% of the adult population are working.
What holds the country back is that many of its citizens cling on to their traditional way of life. Only 7.9% of the population have regular access to the internet. In contrast, in neighbouring Indonesia 22% of the population have access to the internet and in nearby New Zealand 88.2% of the population are using the internet.
The contrasts that can be made between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are intriguing. The geography of the two nations would suggest that they are two very similar places with similar economic potential. However Indonesia ranks 41 places higher than Papua New Guinea and it has cut number of people in poverty by over 50% since the millennium.
Indonesia can attribute its impressive strides in improving lives for the poor and near poor and its sustained economic growth to good governance. Since 2005 it has employed a 20 year plan which is now in its third phase, this plan has seen subsidies taken away from corporations and reinvested into social schemes in an effort to educate the population and pull millions out of the poverty trap. Indonesia still has 40 million citizens living below the poverty line however things are certainly improving and its government deserves some credit for that.
In contrast, PNG is not making good use of its resources by allowing huge tax breaks to MNCs which operate within the country. This means that the government's revenue is reduced whilst its resources are still depleting.
A move away from these tax breaks would give the government sufficient funds to establish methods to promote the intergration of Indonesia's isolated communities.
I would suggest huge investment in infrastructure in order to provide transports links nationwide. The first priority should be the construction of a rail link between the capital Port Moresby on the Southern Coast and the northern city of Lae. This will be an expensive project due to the mountainous terrain of Papua New Guinea however it would be vital to the development of both regions.
The proposed railway would provide immediate access for over 100,000 citizens to the only international airport in the country.
Lae is well located, it is in a good position to be a distributions point to the highlands, islands to the east, southern regions and the Momase region. However in order to encourage large scale trade across the nation further development of the already existing highlands highway would be necessary. This is a huge investment however the rewards would be infinite.
My final goal is to establish a state run education system.
At the moment only 11.7% of the adult population have received some form of secondary education
The aim of this is to improve literacy rates and establish a common language amongst Papua New Guineans. Hiri Motu will be taught in state run schools which will compliment the missionary schools which already exist in the country.
Education is important in a country where cannibalism and black magic are still in practise. Peace and security can only be established through unity of citizens.
Infrastructure and investment in human capital is vital in eventual goal to establish trade links with other Asian and Oceania countries. Predominantly Australia and Indonesia.