New Energy Grid, Transmission Investments are Lighting up Papua New Guinea

Video | 17 August 2018


Only about 12% of Papua New Guinea’s population is connected to the electricity grid. This limits economic opportunities and affects delivery of social services, particularly in the education and health sectors. By 2030 the government targets 70% electrification.

ADB is supporting the government’s energy program with $238 million of ongoing investments. Projects are scaling up renewable energy development and expanding transmission and distribution networks. With additional support from the governments of Japan and New Zealand, these projects are bringing power to new areas, helping lower electricity costs, and meeting power demand across Papua New Guinea.

"Lighting Up Papua New Guinea" is the first in a new video series on the PNG-ADB partnership. Future videos will explore the health and transport sectors, as well as support for private sector development for inclusive growth.

ADB and Papua New Guinea have been working together since 1971. And the partnership continues to grow.


West New Britain Province— Only about 12% of people in Papua New Guinea have access to electricity. By 2030 the government targets 70% electrification.

“I’ve been fishing for a long time to sustain our life. We just use the same lamp. So, when we go out, the whole area will go dark. Living without electricity, we find it very difficult for us," shares Bernard Raralo of Mai Village, West New Britain Province.

Rural villages and subsistence farming shape life for most in Papua New Guinea. The government is committed to developing the countryside.

"We’re developing a broader program with the ADB to address the power issue more in its totality. There’s a power program underway at the moment, which is the Town Electrification Investment Program," affirms Charles Abel, Deputy Prime Minister.

The $150 million program will build new transmission and distribution lines. On the island of West New Britain, a new high-voltage transmission line is delivering power to the provincial centers of Kimbe and Bialla and villages in between.

Julie Andreas, a rural villager in West New Britain, shares that they have been recently connected to the grid after decades of using battery-operated lamps. "We are now using the electricity for nights and for my grandchildren to do their studies."

In the village of Buvussi, the health center serves a population of about 60,000. Until recently, flashlights were used to deliver about 20 babies a month and handled other emergencies at night. 

"It was a big challenge to help our mothers have a safe delivery. We are now using the light 24 hours no more charging, recharging. We are now using a water pump. So they have access to clean water. They can wash themselves properly after delivery," tells Damarish Bulo, the only midwife working at the Buvussi Health Post.

At Ubai Primary School, generators were only used once a week to view lesson plans. "Now that we have access to consistent electricity, I believe this will boost the learning in the school. And towards the end of the year we would expect higher academic results than years before," anticipates Deputy Head Penny Meletong.

With the transmission line in place, West New Britain is looking to the next phase of development.

 "We are also working closely with PNG Power and ADB to upgrade our hydros, so we can have more clean and renewable energy. This is an economic road that generates almost 2 billion kina every year to the GDP of our country. Our people living along this road and contributing to the economy of this country, they deserve a basic power," shares Sasindran Muthuvel, Governor of West New Britain Province.

ADB is supporting the government’s energy program with $238 million of ongoing investments. This is providing new power connections to 7,000 households across the country and adding 42MW new hydropower capacity. This is expected to lower costs of distribution and consumption while meeting power demand. 

"When electricity comes, there’s no need to buy kerosene every month. Maybe everything will go very easy," hopes Bernard Raralo. 


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