Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project about empowerment
Vanuatu communities previously without electricity are set to have access to solar power under the newly-launched Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project.
Vanuatu communities previously without electricity are set to have access to solar power under a project launched last week.
The Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project has support from New Zealand and the World Bank.
New Zealand's High Commissioner in Vanuatu, Georgina Roberts, said the system would help provide increased economic opportunities and improved livelihoods.
She spoke to Johnny Blades:
GEORGINA ROBERTS: So the main aim is to make available low-maintenance solar plug-in and play systems for approximately 17-and-a-half thousand households, 230 aid posts, and 2,000 community halls. The systems are available for people to purchase from selected vendors, there is a 50 percent subsidy that is provided and the aim is for them to be able to take these systems, take them back to their communities and with minimal tasking set them up and be able to access electricity.
JOHNNY BLADES: The plug-in and play system, that's a use as you need kind of thing isn't it?
GR: Yes, so very simple, it comes in a box, they can set it up, it's a small solar panel, there are different sizes that they can purchase, so if they only want to access a limited amount of electricity to power, say, a couple of lightbulbs and a phone charger or a battery recharger then they can purchase a system that's a smaller size and then up to something that's a bit larger.
JB: During the scoping of the project was this deemed to be something that village communities would be able to use you know, it would make sense and it would be efficient?
GR: Absolutely. 85 percent of Vanuatu households for whom any type of power grid system is unattainable because it's difficult to access and it's unlikely to be economical for them, so being able to offer these opportunities for people out in the rural areas in particular to access electricity is going to help them improve their social conditions, ability for people and households to have children who can study at night, mothers and others who are working at home being able to access electricity also gives them the ability to take care of their homes, their children and also broader communities as well, which is desperately needed across the islands.
JB: And I suppose going forward you don't need much in terms of maintenance, just batteries and things, yeah?
GR: Yes, well as long as the sun keeps shining and the solar panels keep working and the people maintain them - there are instructions with the kit on how to maintain the batteries that come with them; they have a certain lifespan so those might need to be rechecked and possibly replaced after a couple of years. But the intention is to try and make it as simple as possible to help people increase their access to electricity services.
JB: Is this project something that the New Zealand Aid programme looked to initiate, or were you approached?
GR: This is a project that actually supports the implementation of the Vanuatu National Energy Roadmap which has an aim of providing access to secure, reliable and affordable electricity for all citizens by 2030. So the government itself has a priority to improve access to renewable energy and other energy sources. So we're very pleased to be able to step in and support them through this particular avenue and it's part of our ongoing bilateral support to Vanuatu in the energy sector.
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