World Bank agency brings lighting scheme to rural PNG
A World Bank agency has unveiled a programme to get affordable electricity to remote parts of Papua New Guinea.
The World Bank, through the IFC, has unveiled plans to get solar generated electricity services delivered to about half a million people in remote parts of Papua New Guinea.
The IFC's Vice President for Asia Pacific, Karin Finkelston, says their off-grid lighting scheme will boost business and educational opportunities, cut household spending and improve safety.
It has been launched in Port Moresby with details of an analysis of the market which Ms Finkelston says shows a widespread need and a market poised for strong growth.
She spoke to Don Wiseman.
KARIN FINKELSTON: What this report does is it gives private sector companies that are producing solar lighting options the opportunity to consider the viability of the market and also it has shown us that there is a viable market for these types of products in Papua New Guinea. So what we are doing then is looking at what products are best suited to this market and then trying to bring those companies into the market and offer them a roadmap or handholding process into how they can enter the market and then we have teamed up with Origin Energy on the distribution side, so looking at how we can get to these remote areas and make these products available to Papua New Guineans.
DON WISEMAN: And you are talking about bringing in foreign companies - from where?
KF: Suppliers of solar products, yes. I think they are from all over the world. I think there are some in Asia and I think that the most exciting thing is that these products, the technology is changing almost on a monthly basis. So what this means is that what will be offered to Papua New Guineans is the latest technology as opposed to what we have often seen in the past where they will get older technology brought here after it's not as interesting to other markets. But what we want to do is introduce, affordable, efficient and safe products into this market.
DW: I guess you have got a clear idea now of whether people will be able to afford them. You are talking about pretty poor people as we understand so can they afford it?
KF: Yes. I think when you look at it there is an upfront cost - it's higher than producing a traditional torch or lantern and it is obviously more costly than potentially gathering firewood for light. But what we see is that over time the benefits are also much higher to having this type of solar lighting because, for example, several of these products - you can actually charge your mobile phone, they provide sort of a non-polluting source of light and actually will improve [health] in terms of both eyesight as well as lung concerns from having firewood burning in the home for light. So we see also over time that the use of this light is helping students study, helping people who work at home or have small businesses. They can use this lighting which will significantly reduce the cost of energy for them so while there is an upfront cost which is higher, when you look at the health benefits, the reduction in the cost of energy, the ability for women to have security, for children to study, we see overall the cost can be quickly recovered.
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