Charging station at Kou Kou Village

Charging station at Kou Kou Village

Two villages in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea, home to some 1200 people, began to enjoy the benefits of electricity over the weekend, thanks to their partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Melanesia’s Million Miracle Partnership (M3P) is a launching pad for partnerships between community-based NGOs, government energy offices and local communities, especially women’s groups, to bring electricity to one million people in Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) by 2020.

For Papua New Guinea, M3P aims to provide electricity to 82,500 households or 495,000 people by 2020. As an M3P partner, SPC sent a team from its Energy Programme to Papua New Guinea from 28 February to 13 March to install and commission a 12 Volt DC off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) charging system for Kou Kou and Gorari villages. This, with 200 Solar Pico lanterns, will bring electricity to both villages, which are located along the Kokoda Track.

The project is a collaboration of the Government of Australia and SPC working in partnership with the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) and the two communities. It was jointly commissioned by SPC and its project partners on 7 March 2015.

One of the community leaders said, “My people are appreciative of SPC’s support and its partnership with KTF to bring this project to my community; this will provide solar lights right at the doorstep of my people. In the past we normally use firewood for cooking and also lights in the night. With the Solar Pico lanterns, we will have access to good quality lights and improve the livelihoods of my people.”

This partnership serves to empower the women’s groups in Kou Kou and Gorari villages to effectively manage community-based micro businesses. They will run solar shops that serve as charging stations for the Solar Pico lanterns.

The women leaders from both villages showed their appreciation. “This project is a blessing to the women; 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 project will improve the livelihoods of our families and empower the women in the area to run a small community business. The lights will improve the security of our families and also help our children complete their homework and study at night.”

Kuini Rabo, officer in charge of M3P, said, “We are pleased to empower the women of Kou Kou and Gorari on the eve of the International Women’s Day. The M3P partnership was designed to empower women because we strongly believe in this year’s theme – Make it Happen – and no doubt these women’s groups will make it happen.”

The women will receive basic business and technical training from SPC and KTF staff.

Similar projects are planned for Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in the coming months, and a hydro-electricity power supply project for 215 households in Papua New Guinea is in the pipeline

For more information, contact Kuini Rabo, Assistant Energy Officer, Energy Programme, Tel: +679  3379 326; [email protected],

or Caroline Tupoulahi-Fusimalohi, Research and Information Adviser, Tel: +679 3379 281; email: [email protected].