Multilateral funding to power up rural PNG
New Zealand, Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have come together to help reach power to remote communities in Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province, West Britain and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. <!--more-->
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Last week, the three parties signed a grant agreement to support the Government of PNG, through PNG Power, to expand a community-based project, which will deliver electricity to remote rural communities for the first time.
The project will trial the use of labour from local communities to install power lines, and provide training to households on the cost effective use of power to support new livelihood opportunities. It will be co-financed by grants of $2.5 million from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and $2.5 million from the New Zealand government, with the Government of Papua New Guinea providing $1 million.
Some 10% of PNG’s population has access to electricity, with relatively fewer connections in rural areas. New hydro generating facilities and transmission lines are being rolled out by PNG Power to provincial centers under a separate ADB-financed electrification programme, but the cost of linking rural communities remains prohibitively high, in part due to the expense of bringing in external contractors. The project aims to tackle the cost barrier by using local work teams to install distribution lines to remote communities.
PNG Power will provide training and supervision for local labor hired to do construction work under the project. PNG Power will also conduct safety and energy efficiency campaigns targeting local people. A critical component of the project is the installation of prepaid power meters in about 4,500 households, as well as community training to raise awareness on income generating opportunities and how to access microfinance. Workshops will be held on the safe use of power and effective budgeting, according to a media release from the Asian Development Bank.
The project is targeting new connections to about 4,500 households, 20 schools and 20 medical facilities in the three provinces by its completion date of 2014.