By ISAAC NICHOLAS
RURAL districts of Southern Highlands will be on the forefront of telecommunications technology after the signing of a US$70 million (K169.5 million) agreement for the installation and operation of a fibre optic cable along the PNG liquefied natural gas pipeline, The National reports.
The multi-million-kina agreement was signed between ExxonMobil country manager Peter Graham and Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru at Parliament House yesterday.
The 750km cable line would provide efficient and reliable telecommunication between Hides in Southern Highlands and the LNG liquefaction plant in NCD.
Agiru described yesterday's signing as a momentous occasion for Southern Highlands and Papua New Guinea.
"The fibre optic cable will transform Southern Highlands into a global entity."
With the nerve centre at Ela Beach in NCD, two computer centres would be set up in Tari and Mendi to link districts in Southern Highlands.
Graham said the occasion was another milestone in the execution of the PNG LNG project, bringing with it opportunities for the economy.
"As we progress through the project's four-year construction period, our investments are generating direct benefits and contributing indirectly to the national economy by stimulating business development and demonstrating to the world that PNG is a worthy investment destination," Graham said.
The PNG LNG project has a 33.33% interest in the cable while IPBC owns 41.67%, Oil Search Ltd 16.67% and the Southern Highlands government 8.33%.
The signing was witnessed by Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare and Southern Highlands MPs including Treasury and Finance Minister Peter O'Neill, State Minister Francis Potape, Sports Minister Philemon Embel, Mendi MP Isaac Joseph and Kagua-Erave MP James Lagea.