ESPIRITU SANTO, VANUATU (21 July 2023) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today joined the Government of Vanuatu and members of the Santo Community in a groundbreaking ceremony, marking the start of construction of around 22 kilometers of transmission lines in Espiritu Santo that form part of the ADB-supported Vanuatu Energy Access Project (VEAP). The transmission and distribution line construction in Espiritu Santo will extend the electricity grid and help provide energy access to previously unenergized areas.

Vanuatu’s Minister for Climate Change Adaptation, Energy, Environment, Meteorology and Geohazards, and Disaster Management Ralph Regenvanu led the event. He was joined by ADB Infrastructure Specialist Elmar Elbling.

“This project will provide better access to safe, reliable power to the people of Malekula and Santo,” said Mr. Elbling. “Locally produced renewable energy will help keep the environment clean and contribute to the country’s economic development.”

“The VEAP will help transform the lives of the people of Santo and allow us to produce clean, low-cost power for more people, many of whom currently do not have access to the main grid,” Mr. Regenvanu said.

The minister also referenced the National Energy Road Map (NERM 2016–2030) and described the project as timely, urging East Santo communities to seize the opportunity to innovate and think big in their business endeavors.

VEAP also supports the construction of the 400-kilowatt Brenwe hydropower plant and transmission and distribution line extension in Malekula, which will be due for completion soon and deliver sustainable, affordable power to residents and businesses. 

The project began in 2017 with $15.1 million funding from ADB, the Strategic Climate Fund, and the Government of Vanuatu. In 2021, ADB provided a $6 million grant and the Government of Vanuatu contributed $1.2 million to upgrade power distribution networks from a single wire to a three-phase system. 

The project involves the construction of 79 kilometers of new transmission and distribution lines and aims at connecting an additional 1,050 new households, with the objective to increase grid access in Espiritu Santo from 22% to 29% and in Malekula from 8% to 14%.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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