Frank Kramer has called on Papua New Guinean engineers to be ‘problem solvers’ for the country’s overall development.
The Chief Executive Officer of Kramer Ausenco said this during his keynote address on innovation and sustainability at the Institution of Engineers of Papua New Guinea (IEPNG) 2017 National Conference in Port Moresby on Tuesday 18th April.
“World Bank global studies have shown unequivocally that a country’s GDP will remain supressed unless and until 70 percent plus of its people have access to electricity. In PNG today, less than 15 percent of our people have access to electricity. We as engineers must not, and cannot allow this shocking statistic to continue-it is not sustainable.”
He said the Human Development Index (HDI) which is a combined measure of the welfare of people (based on life expectancy, education and per capita income) ranked PNG 154 out of 185 countries in 2016.
“In the last 12 months, we have moved closer to the bottom of the list. The welfare of Papua New Guineans based on our health, education and per capita income is getting worse. This is unbelievable. If we are a profession that solves problems, then this is a problem we must do something about.”
He said the obvious extension to the concern about PNG’s position in the global ‘HDI’ context is the poor status of the health and education system. “The bottom line is that mortality rates for mothers at birth are simply unacceptable, and despite rhetoric about the purported free education program introduced in recent times, the reality cannot be denied-the quality of our education system has deteriorated significantly since Independence. If we are to take our rightful position as the leading nation in the South West Pacific, then this scenario is not sustainable.”
Mr Kramer said that when he was a young graduate engineer the telephone system in PNG was better than Australia’s and equivalent to leading world standards. Today the broadband speeds and e-commerce costs are inferior to the country’s neighbours, even smaller and supposedly less prosperous Pacific Island nations.
“I know because I have offices in seven Pacific Island countries. I cannot accept the lethargic position that suggests that our innovation and problem solving capabilities are such that we as engineers are prepared to accept this as the status quo.”
He said he believes that engineers have a definitive part to play in dealing with these challenges.
“We as engineers are the catalysts to innovation and sustainable development. We are problem solvers. So I expect no less from the future generation of the profession that I have so proudly chosen.”
Mr Kramer was the first Papua New Guinean President of the Institution of Engineers, PNG, and the first PNG engineer to become a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.