Economic Growth Drivers in Milne Bay
Milne Bay Province is the largest maritime province and is endured with many natural resources. The administration while acknowledging the challenges and issues affecting its development progress and advancement will focus its effort on the following economic growth drivers for the next five years (2016-2020) to bring meaningful development and participation for its entire people living in the urban and rural area.
Milne Bay Province is best known for its relatively peace loving people and very low crime rate as compared to other provinces in PNG. The people of Milne Bay are one of the most heterogeneous in the country as many are descended from the early Melanesian, Polynesian and Micronesian settlers. Milne Bay has a high literacy rate of nearly eighty per cent. Most of the population can understand, write, and speak English fluently. A significant number can also understand and speak Pidgin and Motu.
Rich Marine Resources
Milne Bay province is the biggest maritime area endowed with the most biologically diverse and pristine coral reefs, mangrove forests, and sea grass beds in the world. Its ecosystems remain in relatively pristine condition compared to other countries in the Pacific Rim. The rich marine resource is famous with the discovery of endemic species of coral and fish, and the presence of many globally rare species, including endangered marine fauna such as dugongs, four species of marine turtles, giant clams, sea birds, black corals and a diverse range of reefs.Milne Bay rich archipelagic water offers diverse range of commercial fishery activities for potential investors such as beche-de-mer, pearling, trochus harvesting, lobsters, crabs and prawn fishery, inshore reef and deep sea fishing and seaweed farming offering opportunities for new markets elsewhere for its diverse marine products. The province benefits from exports of marine products including beche-de-mer and other marine business opportunities. The inland river system supporting fish farming and inshore reefs also offers great opportunity for export of organic breed fish protein, prawns, lobsters and reef fishes thus providing opportunity for local ownership for market chain, utilizing available local based skills, good ports and transport system.
Unique Environment and Eco-Tourism Potential
Milne Bay province is a national government declared tourism province offering diverse attraction in terms of marine, forestry and culture. The peaceful attitudes of people, together with healthy and clean environment with superb diving and numerous picturesque islands support the development in nature-based tourism. Tourism development is on the steady rise at present, consisting of a few live-aboard dive boats and guesthouses as well as the cruise ship initiative currently active in the province. The future upgrading of Gurney airport near Alotau to accept jets or bigger aircrafts will support further development of tourism in the province. Eco-tourism is an area to explore and there is need to harness the support and/or participation of local operators within and outside the province. Environment and Conservation and eco-tourism are major opportunities for Milne Bayans to tap into. The introduction of REDD+ carbon trade model in the province as well as the national government declared wild life management areas in the province also provide wide range of tourism related activities in hiking, bird watching, herbal medicine remedies and other nature base activities for overseas backpackers and potential local visitors.
Huge Mining Prospects
There is huge potential for large scale mining and alluvial mining in Milne Bay with rich mineral deposits covering vast land and sea areas in the province. Ongoing mineral explorations are taking place on Woodlark, Ferguson, Normanby, Misima and Sudest Islands. There is likelihood for increased provincial revenue from the mining sector from these identified sites. The extensive small scale alluvial mining activity in the province also supports the development of small scale cottage industry in gold and other Jewellery production that is ready to be tapped into.
Commercial Organic Agriculture Potential
Milne Bay Province has significant arable land for organic agricultural development. The province currently has 14000 hectares of oil palm, and produces organic copra, cocoa, coffee and other cash crops. Rabaraba in Alotau District presents real potential for organic coffee production which is currently exported through Lae and other high value cash crops. The high fertile islands of Fergusson, Normanby, Sudest and Goodenough which has diverse climate at different altitudes provide conducive environment for growing organic coffee, cocoa, rice and other local product also offers opportunities for new investors to tap into and developed products for domestic and international markets. With the right technology, extension and support services, current agricultural productivity and food security will be achieved, expanded and sustained in the province.
Diverse Small to Medium Enterprise Development Opportunity
Milne Bay offers wide range of small to medium enterprise developmental opportunities which range from garment industry, energy production, freshwater system, shipping industry and cottage industry. The availability of local skilled workforce, cheap sustainable and natural energy availability, untapped local resources, branding of Milne bay water and other local products such as lime pot and bagi, and market accessibility certainly made Milne Bay a great potential for business start-up activities.