As a part of the recent Outer Island Renewable Energy Project (OIREP) mission, the Tonga Navy assisted with logistics and transport for travel to the remote islands of Nomuka, Ha’afeva, Ha’ano, ‘Uiha, Niua Fo’ou and Niua Toputapu. The nine day trip (March 7- 16) was undertaken by a multi-stakeholder team including representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Australian High Commission in Tonga, Government of Tonga officials from its Energy Division, the Ministry of Labour and Commerce, the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and the Ministry of Health, Tonga Power Limited (TPL) and German consultancy company STR.
OIREP will improve the quality, standard and cost of the power delivered to the people of Tonga, while increasing accessibility to electricity on the outer islands. OIREP is a joint program that includes funding from the ADB, the Australian Government and the European Union.
The program supports Tonga’s efforts to reduce diesel generation through use of renewable energy. It aims to construct and install solar power systems on nine outer islands to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel by increasing continuous, reliable, safe and affordable solar energy from using of sustainable and innovative technologies such as solar photovoltaic power. Tonga aims to reach 50% renewable energy generation by 2020 equating to a reduction of 9.4 million litres of diesel per annum.
Australia is keen to support the program as energy supply can greatly impact the well-being and livelihood of those in the outer islands. Through OIREP opportunities are created to overcome barriers to economic expansion for businesses such as weaving and local fish storage (major source of income generation in the outer islands), while increased lighting enables education opportunities and can address health issues such as reduction in salt intake (related to meat preservation practices) and food poisoning.
The Ministry of Health, through the Australian funded Tonga Health Sector Support Program Phase 2 (THSSP 2), took the opportunity to join the mission and extend medical and dental outreach across the islands. Dr Toa Fakakovikaetau and Dr Amanaki Latu, set up mobile clinics on each of the islands providing general medical and dental services and expanding the programs critical non-communicable disease screening component. An added bonus of having the medical team join the OIREP mission, was they were also able to respond to a unexpected medical emergency in the most remote of the islands, Niua Fo’ou. The fast acting decisions of the Tonga Navy and the Ministry of Health saw the safe transport of a labouring mother to the Prince Ngu Hospital in Vava’u, where the baby was safely delivered.
For more information on this media release, please contact Kathleen Bombell, Second Secretary Development, Ph: 23244, or email Kathleen.Bombell@dfat.gov.au or Tevita Tukunga, CEO of Energy Division, Director of Energy Division (MEIDECC) Ph:22700, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.