By Vasinatta Yama – EMTV News, Mt Hagen
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato and Ambassadors and High Commissioners to PNG from USA, Australia, Japan and New Zealand officially launched the Wapenamanda Rural Electrification Project over the weekend in Enga Province. Wapenamanda is the first electorate in PNG to benefit from the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) agreements signed last year by four Countries in Port Moresby. They are United States of America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
More than 5000 houses in the Wapenamanda Electorate in Enga Province, will be connected to electricity over the next two years. Work has already started with New Zealand Government taking the lead in making funds available for groundwork and surveys to be done.
Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Bruce Davis, said as promised from the APEC-signed agreement, the Australian Government is committed, and will provide K60 Million each year, over the next four years, as part of their contribution to this partnership. They are also looking at other ways, beyond their existing programs to further support PNG. They are looking on infrastructure funds by committing to provide 50 per-cent to building pubic infrastructure with PNG government.
Wapenamanda MP and Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato who has been vocal on this project, said the 2018 APEC meeting paved way for such projects to benefit the rural population. These four countries including PNG have agreed for the rural electrification project to take place, so that by year 2030, at least 70 per-cent of the total population should have access to electricity.
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill said less than 1 Million Papua New Guineans have access to electricity. O’Neill said his government is committed to improving power generation to prevent frequent black outs and ensure that every household have power to improve their living standards. K30 Million from this year’s budget has already been allocated for work to begin.