The government of Papua New Guinea has signed a number of memorandums of understanding with the Chinese government to deliver new infrastructure projects in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands region.
Due to be carried out by China Railway Group, the three projects that have been agreed are worth a total of about US$4 billion – equivalent to roughly a quarter of Papua New Guinea’s gross domestic product (GDP).
At present, the country’s main road, the Highland Highway, is a single carriageway riddled with potholes, and its capital, Port Moresby, is not linked to any major towns. The majority of highland villages can be reached only by light aircraft or on foot.
The most significant of the projects aims to provide the country with its first modern road network by upgrading 1,600km of highways.
Roads that will included are the Ramu Highway between Watarais and Madang, the Gulf-to-Southern Highlands highway, the Sepik Coastal Highway from Wau to Bulolo, the Magi Highway between Hoskins and Kimbe, and the Bougainville Road from Tari to Pori.
Two special economic zones for the industrial processing of agricultural produce will also be created at a total cost of about $330 million.
One will be a 150ha development in Eastern Highlands Province, and the other will be a 130ha project in Western Highlands Province.
The third agreement was for a $32 million scheme in the eastern highland town of Goroka to improve the water supply to Eastern Highlands Province.
The first projects to be developed will be the two industrial parks, which will concentrate on export crops such as mushrooms, rice and livestock. They will include the building of a scientific and technological research base and training centre that is intended to promote the modernization of agricultural science in the country.
Papua New Guinea is part of the maritime element of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative to strengthen trading ties between East and West.