Two villages along the Kokoda Track in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG), now have electricity at the flick of a switch, thanks to their partnership with the Kokoda Foundation, the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australian Government.

The villages, Kou Kou and Gorari, are home to around 1200 people. In the past, the residents used firewood for cooking and for lighting at night.

Melanesia’s Million Miracle Partnership (M3P) brings together local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government energy offices and communities, with a focus on women’s groups. The goal is to provide electricity to one million people in the Melanesian nations of PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu by 2020.

M3P will provide electricity to more than 80,000 homes or nearly 500,000 people in PNG by 2020. Through this partnership, a team from our Energy Programme installed a 12 Volt DC off-grid solar photovoltaic charging system for the villages in March 2015. Coupled with 200 Solar Pico lanterns, this now lights up both villages.

Women’s groups in Kou Kou and Gorari used the arrival of solar power to boost community micro-businesses, such as solar shops that serve as charging stations for the solar lanterns. “We will be able to earn money from the sale of solar lanterns and charging of the lanterns and also learn important business skills to operate the solar shop successfully,” the President of Gorari Women’s Group, Rebecca Pondo, said.

Improved lighting also improves security at night and assists school students to complete their homework.

The women are eager to learn more so they can do the repairs and maintenance. “The women are happy with managing the solar charging station, but we need training on the solar systems so we can do the repairs ourselves,” the Vice-President of Kou Kou Women’s Group, Barbabra Sombiro, said.

As part of New Zealand-funded South-South capacity building collaborations, a train-the-trainers exercise was held in Vanuatu in 2016. The training covered technical skills and knowledge of solar energy systems and small business operations. Two representatives of Kou Kou and Gorari women’s groups were trained as technicians to oversee the daily operations of the charging stations.

Highlights

Solar energy for two villages along the Kokoda Track
Part of Melanesia’s Million Miracle Partnership, which will provide solar electricity to 1 million people in PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu by 2020
The lights were installed through the joint efforts of the two villages, the Australian Government, SPC and the Kokoda Track Foundation.

Related links

Kokoda Track Foundation
Australian Aid