The Central Bank of Solomon Islands together with the World Bank and the Australian Agency for International Development, AusAID, have launched the Sustainable Energy Financing Project (SEFP) roadshow program in Gizo, Western Province.

Drawing on the renewable energy endowments found in the Solomon Islands, such as solar power, hydro-power and coconut oil, the project is providing financing support to individual households and small enterprises to buy install and maintain renewable energy products.

A product catalogue has been developed as part of the project to ensure quality solar photo-voltaic (PV) kits, small-scale hydro pumps and coconut oil tanks can be provided reliably. Individuals or businesses which purchase products offered in the catalogue will be eligible for low cost, long term finance, which makes it possible to buy equipment for less than the cost families now spend on kerosene for lighting.

At the launch, Minister for Development Planning and Aid Coordination, the Hon. Steve Abana said "Today's launch of the roadshow program is an important step forward following SEFP's launch at the recent Trade Show in Honiara in July."

"With the support of the World Bank Group and AusAID, the project is encouraging sustainable rural development and is helping to break down some of the common barriers to obtaining finance in small and remote communities."

The roadshow will allow industry experts to share information and experience about solar home systems. It will also demonstrate the potential for side businesses to use cost efficient renewable energy alternatives like solar PV.

"The success of this awareness and educational program depends on community participation and realisation of the huge cost savings from utilising renewable energy that is freely available in the country,"

Minister Abana urged interested people to attend the roadshows to find out what is best for them in terms of their solar energy requirements and needs.

"The success of the project will only be measured in rural areas and by rural Solomon Islanders, when those rural households and communities not supported by the current national grid are able to enjoy cheaper lighting provided by solar energy," Ms Ana Tuionuku, of the World Bank said.

Speaking at the road show launch, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, H.E. Mr. Peter Hooton, said AusAID's contribution to the project demonstrated its long term commitment to improving access to energy in Solomon Islands.

"The energy sector in Solomon Islands is a new sector for Australia to engage in and recent fluctuations in oil prices mean it is becoming an increasingly important one," Mr Hooton said.

"Therefore, in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government, Australia hopes this contribution to the Sustainable Energy Financing Project will be the first part of a larger program of support to the Solomon Islands to not only improve access to energy but also increase affordability."

The series of road shows will travel to provincial capitals throughout the Solomon Islands over the coming year.

SOURCE: Press Release