Connecting communities to clean energy and the digital economy in PNG

This partnership aims to provide access to affordable and reliable solar energy solutions to off-grid households and small businesses in PNG. The initiative will release a range of reliable solar products into the market, from entry-level phone charging/lanterns to large home and business kits capable of powering TVs and other appliances. These products will be brought to market by leveraging Digicel’s extensive distribution and organisational capabilities across PNG. This will provide a range of sustainable, cost effective and environmentally friendly alternatives to current costly and inferior energy sources, and enable better access to, and connection with, the digital economy.



Partnership aims

  • Substantially decreases recurring energy expenditure incurred by PNG households and small businesses.
  • Financial and time savings for households by having an energy source on the premises.
  • Health and safety benefits associated with solar energy solution, reducing indoor air pollution and the risk of fires from candles and oil lamps. 
  • Better access to, and connection with, the digital economy (mobile, smartphones, laptops, etc)
  • Create new jobs in sales, marketing and after-sales service.

Value

Private sector funding

$1,037,000

DFAT funding

$500,000

Total Value

$1,537,000

Timeline

Start date: July 2016

End date: June 2017

Industry sector

Energy – Off-Grid

 

Around 90% of the PNG population is currently not connected to the electricity grid, severely constraining their participation in the digital economy. This partnership will build the foundation of Digicel’s consumer solar business by introducing basic solar lanterns and kits, through cash and carry retail sales into the Momase region. The initiative will build on this foundation, by increasing its range of solar products, routes to market, payment options and geographic coverage. The improved ability to charge mobile phones and computers will significantly boost access to GSM and data services and better connect communities to the digital economy.

Shared value

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. It is a business strategy focused on companies creating measurable economic benefit by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue.

The BPP is helping businesses partner with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and/or markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development
Digicel staff and customer with mobile phone

Reconceiving products or/and markets

Households incur significant up front and recurring costs (time and money) on low performing lighting  products (such as kerosene and candles). Beyond lighting, most households have no capacity to generate electricity which can power mobile phones or laptops which allow them to access digital services. Beyond the crippling financial cost, the use of basic fuels to provide lighting also creates a range of detrimental side effects including respiratory infections, chronic lung disease and eye infections. This partnership will provide access to affordable and reliable solar energy solutions to off-grid households and small businesses in PNG.

Digicel two school students at desk with computer

Enabling local cluster development

Productivity can be extended through increased ‘daylight’ hours, especially for cottage industries/handicrafts, micro-retail outlets, fisherman and smallholder farmers, who cannot sell, catch or process products without lighting. In industries like farming, which have a limited window for post-handling of products and delivery to market, the limits to productivity created by lack of lighting can have serious consequences. Increased connectivity can improve access to market information for crops, which can facilitate better market opportunities.

With respect to battery charging solutions, these hybrid lighting/power products will provide, in many cases the only access to cheap, reliable and renewable charging options. Access to electricity in this form has the potential to rapidly reduce the cost of charging mobile and portable devices and facilitating greater opportunities for communities to unlock the potential of the digital economy.

Partner information

The partnership is between Digicel and DFAT.

Digicel

Digicel staff  

Digicel 

Digicel was established in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in July 2007. It has developed a very strong local brand, with currently 81% brand awareness in PNG. Digicel employs over 900 men and women in PNG and its mobile phone coverage reaches over 90% of the population of PNG.

Digicel will leverage, as part of the overall partnership, its national presence, local knowledge, existing client base, networks, telecommunications infrastructure and other resources to ensure the success of the initiative. 

Milestones

Upcoming milestone Monitoring Workshop September 2016
Completed milestone Partnering Workshop Meeting 25 July 2016



Last Updated: 20 July 2016