This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the ABG and the United Nations Development Program in Buka on Monday, July 18th.
The Innovation Hubs will be funded by the government of Japan, and will essentially be a one-stop-hub where women and youth from Bougainville can look to begin their entrepreneurial journey, improve their financial literacy, and look to resource themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills towards participating in a digital and technologically focused future.
ABG President, Ishmael Toroama, was present at the ceremony along with several cabinet ministers and members of the Bougainville House of Representatives, and Chief Secretary Shadrach Himata.
President Toroama stated that Bougainville has enormous potential for economic development.
“The second point of my six point strategy is Economic Growth and Control. Through this strategy, my government recognises the need to develop Bougainville’s economy through a more practical approach. It encourages developing industries and economic sectors that Bougainvilleans are already involved in,” he said.
“The concept of having innovation hubs situated in each of our three regions will provide our people with the necessary skills and knowledge through the use of technology.
“This will enable them to keep track of their supply chains as well as improving their financial capacity as entrepreneurs.”
President Toroama acknowledged the United Nations and the Government of Japan for their continued support to peace building on Bougainville, and further encouraged development partners to consider Bougainville’s own economic priority areas in foreign direct investment, improved technology and equipment in primary industries and providing technical assistance in developing Bougainville’s economic capacity.
United Nations Resident Representative, Dirk Wagener, who officiated at the signing ceremony, said: “It is our hope that the innovation hubs will support early-stage entrepreneurs through education, mentorship and infrastructure to help accelerate the business idea and support service delivery to improve and economic empowerment opportunities for the Bougainville people and communities, especially for women and youth.”
The innovation hubs will have an education and training component that will deliver entrepreneurship and innovation related programs.
This will be supplemented by an intensive industry focused business program in five industries identified under the ABG’s Socioeconomic Baseline Survey Report, including copra, cocoa, fisheries, tourism and hospitality and mining equipment and technical services.
Construction of the innovation hubs are expected to start in September this year.