Only 13 percent of Papua New Guinea has access to electricity. But investment from the United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand will bring light and power to 70 percent of the population by 2030 through new electrical infrastructure.

The project is “proof that America and our businesses are investing in this region as never before,” U.S. Vice President Pence said in a November 18 news conference.

The Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership aims to bring electricity to one of the most remote parts of the world and pave the way for future foreign investment.

The White House said the project is intended to focus on the importance of “principles-based, sustainable infrastructure development” that:

  • Is transparent, nondiscriminatory and environmentally responsible.
  • Promotes fair and open competition.
  • Upholds robust standards.
  • Meets the genuine needs of the people of Papua New Guinea.
  • Avoids “unsustainable debt burdens.”

New opportunities for the Indo-Pacific

The project is another example of the U.S. effort to create new opportunities in the Indo-Pacific.

Yet another example is a new initiative between the United States, Australia and Japan to promote open and fair investment in the Indo-­Pacific in a way that will create jobs and grow economies without burdening developing countries with debt.

The new partnership will “drive economic growth in emerging markets and provide an alternative to state-directed initiatives that can leave developing countries worse off,” the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) said in a statement.

People sitting beside fountain and looking at mobile phones (© Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
OPIC is already investing in the Indo-Pacific. Prior to OPIC telecommunications projects and governmental reforms, Burma lacked wide­spread access to the internet. Now smartphones are a part of daily life. (© Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The initiative will provide loans, insurance and grants to private businesses investing in energy, infrastructure and communications solutions in the Indo-Pacific. It involves OPIC and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation — and also, from Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation.

During a November visit to southeast Asia, Vice President Pence reaffirmed that the U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific is “steadfast and enduring.”

Our nation’s security and prosperity depend on this vital region, and the United States will continue to ensure that all nations, large and small, can thrive and prosper,” he said.