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Papua New Guinea digital government plan draft includes consolidated biometrics system

Papua New Guinea digital government plan draft includes consolidated biometrics system

Details of a draft plan by the government of Papua New Guinea to digitize all public services in the country have been released for consultation by relevant stakeholders.

According to an announcement from the Secretary of the Department of Information and Communication technology, Steven Matainaho, the plan which will require increased use of digital identity and biometrics, covers the period 2023-2027 and the consultations will run till August 10, 2022.

The 47-page draft document presents the purpose of the plan, its goals, program items to be delivered and their timelines, investments and delivery mechanisms, as well as how the digital government plan will be monitored and evaluated.

Among other issues, the Digital Government Plan 2023-2027 calls for coordinated efforts in the deployment of “ONE biometric or digital technology” for all agencies to use for identity service-related purposes, including for e-voting rollout.

The plan, which is hinged on the ICT Roadmap of 2018, the Papua New Guinea Digital Transformation Plan of 2020 and the Digital Government Act of 2022, seeks to completely digitize and automate all government systems and processes while extending penetration of telecommunication coverage to reach about 90 percent of the population by 2027.

Specifically, the plan seeks to enable people have access to simple, fast and clear services; ensure transparent and efficient government; increase government revenue generation through the uptake of small and medium sized enterprises and direct foreign investments, and grow the digital economy, the release outlines.

As the government indicates, the move to digitize all government services will also help meet some of the objectives of the country’s Development Strategic Plan of 2030, and will ensure an effective and coordinated whole-of-government delivery of public services.

After the public consultation, the draft plan will then be submitted to the Public Service ICT Steering Committee for its vetting.

The government also notes it has set aside 283 million Papua New Guinean Kinas (approximately US$80.3 million) for digital identity and related investments in the 2021 National Budget, and PGK780 million ($221.4 million) for biometrics and registration activities by the National Statistics Office, the National Identity Project, and the PNG Electoral Commission over the past decade.

Meanwhile, a call for feedback papers has also been launched for views and comments aimed at helping the government strengthen and improve on certain aspects of the plan before its implementation.

Last year, a research fellow advised the Papua New Guinea government against using biometrics for voting as yet, highlighting a number of factors which could hinder the effective deployment of such technology for national polls.

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