As part of ESG’s support to the USAID Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership (USAID-PEP) Activity, we’re not only working to improve utility company operations throughout the country for on-grid power, but also focusing on those remote communities not connected to grid power. The USAID-PEP team recently traveled to New Ireland Province to provide technical assistance for quality-certified (Verasol) solar product distributors and resellers to increase access to stand-alone solar products throughout the province. Quality-certified stand-alone solar products can play a huge role in providing affordable and reliable solutions in remote areas without access to grid connected power. These solutions often displace poorer quality products that are readily available in the market.

The team engaged with the Provincial Government, District Development Authorities, solar distributors (Bisi Trading, Hardware Haus), financiers (MiBank) and local woman-owned entrepreneurial groups to discuss quality-certified solar products, customer needs, and micro-financing options for increased product distribution. Through workshops with these groups, the team learned that although quality-certified products are considered preferable, consumers must travel long distances to purchase products. Many communities are also not aware of the availability of these products and continue to purchase generic poorer quality products.

If small entrepreneurial groups could become resellers of quality-certified stand-alone solar products at local levels, this would provide more local options for customers, ensure customers have ongoing technical support for products, and create income generating opportunities. These workshops and meetings were helpful to identify opportunities where USAID-PEP can provide ongoing technical support and training to existing distributors and potential resellers. The team also facilitated business linkages between small-medium sized entrepreneurs interested in selling quality-certified stand-alone solar products in remote areas.

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