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Melanesia’s Million Miracle Program taps Sunlabob for solar lighting

2014-11-SPC

The Million Miracle Program (M3P), a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on access to electricity in Melanesia, has chosen Sunlabob to provide 600 solar-powered lanterns centered on 16 locally-managed charging stations as well as the accompanying community training manuals.

Led by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the government energy departments in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, the M3P initiative aims to provide access to electricity services to more than 1 million residents of the three respective island nations.

Access to the central utility grid is as low as 12% in Papua New Guinea, 14% in the Solomon Islands and 28% in Vanuatu.

To supplement the technology, Sunlabob also will be providing written training manuals for the operators and end-users to facilitate proper operation and maintenance techniques in each community.

The lantern charging stations will be the focal point for launching micro-enterprise “solar shops” primarily managed by women. The “solar shop” managers – many of which will be women – will rent lanterns individually to the community members to generate ongoing revenue and a self-sustaining business model.

Kuini Rabo from SPC’s Energy Programme, added: “This project will empower [women’s groups] to effectively manage community-based micro businesses. They will run solar shops that serve as charging stations for solar lights. The solar shops will be coordinated by the women's council in the two communities.”

The M3P initiative aims for more than 100 members of the communities and representatives of the solar shops to receive technical and micro business training.

Overall, 100 solar shops are set to be established.

The M3P initiative adds to a long list of Sunlabob’s engagement in rural renewable energy programs in the Pacific region.

In 2013, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community commissioned Sunlabob to supply 3,500 solar-powered lanterns and 70 lantern charging stations in Micronesia. In 2012, SPC chose Sunlabob to deliver and provide installation training for 1,500 solar home systems in the Marshall Islands.

Sunlabob also continues to work in the Kiribati islands, where Antony Watkins, one of the company’s principal engineers, has been providing solar installation services and hands-on training for local engineers and technicians.