Rural Power Grid Extension in Papua New Guinea

PNG Power delivering electrification to rural PNG

In 2016, work began on the Rural On-Grid Extension Project to extend the power grid of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea increasing access to electricity in rural areas. The project, led by PNG Power was supported by the New Zealand Government with a $24.7 million grant.

Donnia Bomai, Project Manager at PNG Power, says the current extension adds over 80km of transmission lines providing access to electricity for 5600 rural residents.

In March 2022, New Zealand High Commissioner Phillip Taula officially commissioned the NZ-funded project which supports Papua New Guinea’s goal of delivering electricity to 70% of the population by 2030.

The project is also supported by the USA, Japan, and Australia.

Donnia says electrification is key to the improvement of quality of life for the people of PNG, including improved healthcare and schooling.

Donnia and the team are already seeing the knock-on effects of electrification. “There’s a change in their mindset and now they can improve their own livelihood,” says James Tiki, Project Engineer at PNG Power. “They’re trying to improve their houses.”

Rural Papua New Guinea

Furthermore, clinics are now able to reliably store vaccines where some relied on solar power which was weather dependent. “We went to on village [and] the local health worker… you could see the joy on his face,” says Donnia, “he was just really happy to receive this when we energised the meter in the clinic.”

In the same village, a family set up a speaker and radio once they heard they were being connected to the grid so they could sing, dance, and celebrate.

The project wasn’t easy in rural PNG. James says they were challenged by the rural roads and wet season weather with equipment and materials difficult to transport.

Donnia and the team are proud of the work they’re doing. “It’s one thing to say you know they were happy, but when you’re actually on the ground … you see the reaction,” says Donnia. “It’s a satisfying job.”

A short story about the power grid development is now playing on PasifikaTV.