Speaking at the Sub-regional Workshop on Connectivity Development in the South West Pacific Region last Thursday, Dr Yala said enhancing connectivity within the SwPD block has the potential to enhance people to people network.
He said the connections will allow free flow of goods and services, enhance trade and investment and in the process improve the welfare of the people of the SwPD block and beyond.
Hence, he said the focus of the SwPD aimed at developing and improving connectivity is a noble one.
“The challenge however, is moving from rhetoric to action. This requires the SwPD block initiating a process that makes the development of connectivity a reality.
“With this in mind, I am submitting to the SwPD block to utilise what nature has presented to the member economies – the island of New Guinea as a land bridge between Oceania and Asia.
“This island is a conduit or land bridge between the SwPD block and the surrounding economies.”
Dr Yala added that for many years, in fact, after more than four decades of independence, PNG has not taken any strategic initiative to explore options for taking advantage of the physical location of this island, the Island of New Guinea.
“Consequently, PNG remains one of the most fragmented and isolated countries, both internally and externally in the world.
“Hence, this idea is promoted for the interest of PNG and the SwPD, in which, PNG is a member.
“Opening up the Island, is an important idea for developing and deepening connectivity.
“PNG, the host nation for this workshop should give this idea a serious consideration. This is critical for PNG’s growth and prosperity as a nation. This should be seen as an opportunity worth exploring to make this country the land of opportunities and/or paradise.”
Dr Yala said it would be a disappointment for PNG and this block if the opportunity to deeply connect the region was not realized; or at least not in our lifetime.