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Kokoda Track Foundation

Promoting access to solar energy to improve education and livelihoods of remote communities in Papua New Guinea

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Despite the incredible wealth of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in terms of its natural resources, 40% of PNG’s population lacks access to electricity, a crucial factor for human wellbeing and socioeconomic development. Disconnection from the grid is particularly high for communities living in Western province: only 7% of the local population have access to electricity.

Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), a community development organisation, believes that solar lighting and energy technology present a significant opportunity to provide clean, sustainable and affordable lighting solutions to off-the-grid communities in PNG.

Leveraging the strong relationships that it has built over the past decade in the country with communities, local government and NGOs, KTF is well positioned to embark on the “Light for Learning” project with the support of the Puma Energy Foundation. Together, we aim at providing solar energy solutions to off-the-grid communities in Western province, improving education and livelihood opportunities, while offering a cleaner and more cost-efficient energy source. 

The objective of our partnership will be to work together with local populations to install 4,712 household and 147 community solar systems. KTF’s project is backed by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other donors, which supports its model on a wider scale in PNG’s Oro Province. 

The “Light for Learning” project prioritizes those remote villages where KTF has students enrolled at one of its education facilities to support their learning development and access to tablet-based resources. It is expected that the installation of solar systems will increase students’ home study time by 50%. KTF also aims to have a wider impact on recipients’ livelihoods: decreasing household energy costs, enabling more time and resources to be spent on business activities and reducing the negative impacts of open fires on family health.  

The project will also train groups of local men and women, called “solar champions”, on solar system maintenance and battery replacement.

The Puma Energy Foundation is delighted to embark on this new partnership with KTF and set in motion the catalytic effects of clean and cost-efficient energy for remote populations in the Papuan highlands. 

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