ICT sector needs tougher laws


I WRITE in regards to the Government’s overall lax in provisioning strong leadership in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
It is critical to provide the oversight and a strong leadership to counter the uncoordinated technological boom in PNG’s digital space.
Businesses are taking advantage in the absence of proper coordination, oversight and quality control laws, hence viewing PNG’s digital space as an experiment environment to test new technologies and applications.
A classic example is the failure of the Grade 12 online selection in 2018, which might continue to be the case this year.
The people who have brought in the application have escaped scot-free without being charged and sued.
Drafted explanations given by the Department of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology misled the Government to believe it was an issue of finance and administration, when the technology itself failed.
Students who scored good marks but have not been selected will form part of the unfortunate students failed by an untested technology.
A very sad case indeed! It may repeat in 2019. We only wait for the selections to become official.
There are other similar issues of ICT that the persons involved have escaped after receiving their cuts due to of lack of supervision, management and even good laws to hold them accountable. The speed of digitisation continues to remain unchecked; thus giving rise to an influx of unchecked and untested applications.
Many similar ICT technologies and applications that have been tested in PNG institutions have failed as the above.
Suppliers and dealers have escaped due to lack of proper policy and laws after receiving their payments and returning favor.
The recently passed Cyber-crime Code Act is aimed at cyber bullying and other sex related offences including illegal hacking and so forth in PNG’s cyber-space.
But when it comes to the quality check of the applications and software, it’s seriously alarming because there is no single law that the government could use to tackle the fake ICT wizards.
The most common entry point is the ICT ignorant department heads, ministers and other government agencies who through their internal IT officers are colluding to mislead these bureaucrats to approve the introduction.
Once it’s bought and in the event the system fails, these same persons give misleading explanations and escape to the next job.
The failure lies partly in the government’s oversight bodies such as the Department of Communication which remains understaffed.
The Department has been inundated by unlawful appointments of junior technocrats or persons who have very narrow management views and experiences of the whole sector.
There is no clear and decisive leadership in the sector.
This has resulted in a vacuum giving room for infiltration in the ICT market with vast untested and fake applications.
This goes to all the other agencies in the sector who have been so entrenched in systematic and institutional cultures that they are not able to embrace these changes and rise up to the management challenges of this era.
The Government needs to step up leadership in the ICT Sector.

Kep Luma