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Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Santos are bringing lifesaving electricity to a rural community in Southern Highlands Province.

In partnership with the Southern Highlands Provincial Health Authority, Santos through the Santos funded Oil Search Foundation (OSF) and USAID launched the Pimaga Rural Hospital Solar Electrification Project on March 28 at Pimaga, in Nipa Kutubu District, Southern Highlands Province.

The mini grid installed through the project will now serve not only hundreds of patients seen at the clinic but will also provide power to the dozen or more clinic staff and their families who live on the health clinic compound. Enhanced electrical capacity at the clinic will keep patients more comfortable, as well as allowing clinicians to carry out medical treatments more reliably and safely.

At the switch on ceremony at Pimaga this week, Leon Buskens, Santos Country Chair PNG said the use of renewable energy such as solar demonstrates Santos’ Vision 2040 to be a leading global provider of clean fuels and investing in carbon reduction initiatives.

“This collaboration with USAID and the Southern Highlands Provincial Health Authority (SHPHA) to bring electricity through the solar mini grid project will go a long way in providing a much-needed source of cheap, economically viable, and sustainable form of energy source,” Mr Buskens said.

“Partnership is a critical enabler of opportunities and breakthroughs in terms of human resource development, capacity building and innovative solutions. Santos and the Foundation have had meaningful discussions with the Nipa Kutubu MP, Dr. Billy Joseph, recently to explore how best to partner with the Nipa Kutubu District Development Authority (NKDDA) as well to enhance the health and educational milestones for the District and the Province.”

Santos funded the Foundation’s Chief Programs Officer, Jean Martin said “The Foundation is committed to working with our partners like SHPHA and the DDA to strengthen the systems that enhance service delivery. Reliable clean energy will improve service delivery at Pimaga Rural Hospital, and we are pleased to have been able to partner with USAID PEP to undertake this piece of work.”

OIC (Matron) at Pimaga Rural Hospital, Pauline Rex thanked both Santos and USAID for lighting up the Pimaga Rural Hospital saying lack of electricity in the past years saw many referrals made to Mendi General hospital along challenging road conditions, with mothers and children consequently losing their lives along the way.

She said with the solar mini grid, the hospital has 24-hour electricity that can power up refrigerators to store blood for life saving treatments.

United States Charge d’Affaires Joseph Zadrozny said, “The United States is proud to work hand-in-hand with our partners to support this climate smart approach to rural electrification. This mini grid will not only allow better health outcomes at the clinic but will also light up houses so that children can study at night and families can spend more time together.”

This mini grid can be seen as a model for rural electrification in Papua New Guinea. The grid will benefit rural communities, while being maintained and administered with the help of the Pimaga Rural Hospital, thus achieving reliable and sustainable electrification for those benefitting.

The mini-grid project was supported through USAID’s Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership (USAID-PEP) Activity, a five-year project in partnership with the Government of PNG that will contribute to the goal of connecting 70 percent of PNG’s population to electricity by 2030. USAID-PEP contributes to the PNG Electrification Partnership formed between the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Papua New Guinea at the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Summit hosted in Port Moresby.