Digital Transformation: The Role of Mobile Technology in Papua New Guinea – how to ensure that women benefit too

‘Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future’ was a theme of Papua New Guinea’s APEC host year in 2018. The theme prioritised discussion on how information and communication technologies promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

In an Australian Government-commissioned report “The Digital Transformation: The Role of Mobile Technology in Papua New Guinea”, GSMA concluded that the take up of mobile phones and therefore the impact of technology is still in early stages in Papua New Guinea. They called on the Government and donors to act now to ensure that Papua New Guinea’s digital future is one that will benefit all sectors and regions and leaves no one behind.

Affordable and accessible mobile technology offers opportunities to advance and strengthen social and economic development in Papua New Guinea. For example, mobile technology can reach across geographies, income levels and cultures and help leapfrog traditional brick-and-mortar approaches to development. Mobile phones can make women feel safer, more connected and provided access to information, services and life-enhancing opportunities. This can include health information, access to financial services and knowledge about job opportunities.

But as with all forms of development, efforts to improve the digital and financial inclusion of women in Papua New Guinea must take the social context within which women operate into account. In Papua New Guinea, the report notes that owning and using a mobile phone can actually increase safety concerns for women. These include from risks relating to theft, to receiving harassing calls or messages, online security and that mobile use may trigger domestic violence as a result of jealousy or other reasons. And mobile use is not always even – while mobile technology can help overcome the lack of traditional infrastructure and availability of key services for both women and men, in Papua New Guinea, and globally, more men than women own and use mobile phones.

Research by GSMA has identified several common barriers faced by women in low and middle-income countries. These are: affordability, accessibility (including limited access to ID, electricity and limited mobility to access a mobile network signal), safety concerns, relevance, and usability and skills. In Papua New Guinea, GSMA has identified affordability, low levels of understanding about how to use technology, and safety concerns as the key barriers. Initiatives aimed at digital transformation in Papua New Guinea need to address these barriers in order to support women’s digital and financial inclusion.

GSMA is an international leader in “mobile for development”. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s InnovationXchange commissioned GSMA to examine the possibilities, provide insights and make recommendations on the potential use of mobile technology in Papua New Guinea

If you are interested in learning more about how to use or to teach others how to safely use mobile technology GMSA has a range of resources available including their Mobile Skills Toolkits available here:

The full report is available at

A blog post is available at

Watch a video summarising some key findings: