It was 1981 when I came to Wamena for the first time. For most of time between 1999 to 2005, I lived there and also in the mountains nearby. In 2006, I settled in Wamena and started running an internet-café.
In my point of view, the encounter with computers, especially laptops, has brought a big change to Papuan lives (except for Indonesian). It enabled them to see and hear the unknown world outside the one without TV or music.
Why do they manage to get such an expensive thing? (The price of a computer is more than 500 dollars in Wamena. Monthly income of public employees is about 150 dollars.) My internet-café in Wamena offers fixing service.
Computers have become one of the essential parts of life, but there are some problems. First, because computers are provided for free, Papuan people don’t take care of it very properly. Especially, the life with electric appliances is still new for them, its operation and treatment is a big problem. Second, although laptops give profit to villages in inconvenient areas, most of their electricity supplies (except for Wamena) dependents on their own generator. Its unreliable electricity supply sometimes damages the inside equipments of computer. Third, people start understanding the basic software such as WORD or EXELE, which are the main purpose to use computer, still there are very few who people use or learn Internet and other software.
Vision for the future
It would take much longer time until Papuan people really understand computers and maximize its benefit. Because of a sudden change from the life without books or electric appliances, they look just confused to have the latest technology and eventually sometimes break it. That’s the situation for now.
The biggest problem is that people lack the will to be better. I’ve found out through 4 years experience of running an internet-café that they are easy to forget even very simple operation. New technology can be easily brought by money, but learning it takes time. Papuan people, who have been away from taking efforts to learn new things, would have to face difficulties from now on.