Mr Wilson Iata (left) and Mr Chris Simelum, Acting Director of the Department of Energy displaying the first product bought and VREP Product under the Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project (VREP)

Households, aid posts and community halls throughout rural Vanuatu will now be able to purchase ‘plug and play’ solar home systems, subsidized through Phase One of the Vanuatu Rural Electrification Project (VREP), a New Zealand Government funded initiative managed by Vanuatu’s Department of Energy and supported by World Bank.

Approved Vendors and Products under the VREP were launched January 29 at Lenakel Town, and witnessed by Tafea Provincial Government Officers, Lenakel Municipality Mayor, Chairman of the Nikolatan Council of Chiefs, Area Secretaries of Tafea Province, community leaders, business, women representatives, Department of Energy staff and staff of PCS Limited and eTech.

Access to affordable, safe and reliable electricity in Vanuatu is a major development need for the country. Currently, over 20,000 households, 200 aid posts and 2,000 community halls are located in areas where access to grid electricity is uneconomical. The opportunities for the households to have longer period of lighting for children to study, aid posts to open for services past daylight times and community halls to become more productively used, are limited by the lack of electricity and especially lighting in these institutions.

Speaking at the launch was the Acting Director of Energy, Mr Chris Simelum who commended the people of Tafea Province for co-hosting the launch and being the first province in Vanuatu to be chosen for the inaugural launch of the vendors and products of the VREP.

In response, Mr Reynolds Surmat, Secretary General of Tafea Province thanked the Vanuatu Government through the Department of Energy for choosing Tafea Province as the first province to launch the approved vendors and products. He expressed his gratitude to the Department and especially people and Government of New Zealand for funding this Project and appeals to over 5,000 households in Tafea to capitalise on these subsidized products promoted under VREP.

“We need these types of Projects that target the hearts of our people and VREP is one which targets rural people who are really in need of clean, healthy lighting and some system to charge their mobile phones. Unlike other small solar systems that are purchased in most retail shops throughout

“Vanuatu, VREP products have warranty arrangements which are valuable for any system failures.

“I am also excited that the two approved vendors, PCS Limited and eTech, will sell the approved products for half the price of the normal retail price.

“The people of Tafea Province looks forward to seeing the approved vendors establish their network throughout the Province to support their sales. ”

The launch also saw Mr Wilson Iata from a nearby village outside of the concession boundaryon Tanna Island, being the first recipient to purchase his product under the 50% subsidy. The Department of Energy would like to congratulate Mr Iata for being the first recipient of the VREP and wishes him the very best using his system.

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