US expands bilateral agreement with K85m

The U.S. government has announced an K85 million ($25 million) expansion of its bilateral agreement between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

This is to improve natural resource management; increase access to reliable and affordable energy in the country; as well as to empower women entrepreneurs in PNG.

“The United States is a proud partner with Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and Japan in the goal to bring electricity to 70 percent of PNG homes by 2030, empower women owned businesses, and to protect the lands, forests and waterways of PNG for generations to come,” said its embassy.

The 85 million brings the U.S. government contribution to more than PGK110 million ($32.5 million) since 2016.

Announcing the additional investment in PNG, Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray commented that “American Nicolas Bergguen once said ‘The biggest determinant in our lives is culture, where we are born, what the environment looks like. But the second biggest determinant is probably governance. Good governance or a certain kind of governance makes a huge difference in our lives.’”

Under the expanded agreement, USAID will proudly join the PNG Electrification Partnership, which aims to electrify 70 percent of PNG’s population by 2030. USAID will work with PNG partners to strengthen the effectiveness of PNG Power Ltd, provide electricity access to remote communities, strengthen energy regulatory systems and catalyse private sector investment. 

“This agreement between our nations supports the environment and good governance of PNG, while demonstrating the commitment of the American people to the security and responsible economic development of Papua New Guinea,” said United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Catherine Ebert-Gray. 

“We are proud to stand with the Government and the people of Papua New Guinea as partners in strengthening the country’s environmental resilience and improving the management of PNG’s customary lands and waters.”

The additional investment also includes K10.2 million ($3 million) of funding to the Lukautim Graun (Look After the Environment) project under the U.S. government’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, which advances women’s economic empowerment globally.

“Initiative and relationships are critical in PNG, therefore local people, their talents and cultural heritage will be front and centre of these programs,” said Ambassador Ebert-Gray. 

“Globally, PNG is one of only 17 megadiverse countries worldwide and this rich biodiversity is challenged by unsustainable logging and fishing practices as well as the changes to the ecology as a result of climate variability. You have wisely made it a priority to protect PNG’s colourful culture and biological diversity and I am honoured we can be part of the effort to protect your global legacy.”  

Apart from strengthening the management of customary lands and waters in key biodiversity areas, USAID also will empower women filling a wide range of roles – from farming and fisheries women in rural PNG, to women entrepreneurs developing new businesses, to women employees and leaders in the formal sector.

The United States and PNG have long enjoyed a close partnership pursing mutual development goals. Through USAID, the U.S. government has supported initiatives that uphold transparency and good governance, curb the effects of climate change, protect fisheries, improve public health and promote gender equality.

(New public-private investment projects will bring billions of dollars to the Indo-Pacific region to provide power, infrastructure and telecommunications such as Papua New Guinea – Pic by Marc Anderson)

Press release