It’s wonderful to be with you on Day One of my Northern Tour to celebrate such an important win for your community.
Just last week, we were celebrating the students of the Duavata Secondary School who did your Province proud by winning the national Our Constitution Challenge.
Ladies and Gentlemen, access to electric power is a service that most take for granted in our cities and towns, where a great many people have lived their entire lives with the ease and comfort of electricity. That life-changing convenience has now come to the Valoca Settlement. With this over $38,000 Dollars investment from my Government, your communities are safer, your children’s future is brighter, and Fiji is a stronger nation for having unlocked more of your people’s potential.
You will experience the benefits of reliable power supply every hour of every day in in-numerable ways. Your children can complete their homework into the evening, even after the sun has set. You can reliably heat water to clean it to drink or simply take a warm bath. If you have a local business, you can continue to operate into the evenings.
Your homes can be lit at night, granting you greater peace of mind. You can operate refrigerators that can keep fish and produce, fresh and chilled. You can plug into the national television network through Walesi to stay abreast of the most important issues of the day and cheer on our athletes, including our both Womens’ and Mens’ rugby and football sides. And you are now spared from the uncertainty of intermittent power supply, the cost of keeping candles and kerosene lamps on standby, and the poor health effects of smoke exposure from burning firewood. To put it simply, you can advance on the same foundation as the rest of the country and make the most of the knowledge-based society we are creating for Fiji.
My commitment as your Prime Minister is to extend electricity access to every home in Fiji by 2026. Increasingly that means going to great lengths to reach the most rural and maritime communities. In some cases, it makes sense to extend our national grid, as we’ve done here. In others, we’re deploying more sensible solutions, like solar power.
Whatever measure is needed, we will supply because there is no distance we will not go to serve the needs of the people and there is no Fijian we are willing to leave behind.
As we energise all of Fiji, we are also moving the country towards net-zero carbon emissions. As you may know human-driven emissions are the cause of climate change –– which is the reason why the seas are rising and cyclones, like Winston, Harold, Ana, and Yasa, are becoming more severe. And as I’m sure you have seen, Fiji has taken a big role on the world stage to tackle the climate crisis. That means we are demanding action from larger countries abroad, and leading by example at home.
Most of our energy in Fiji already comes from renewable sources. We have dams across the country that generate what is called hydro-electric power, which we harness and deploy nationwide. But we also rely on fossil fuels that we import from overseas. These are not only expensive, they are also terrible for the planet and environment.
So, over the next few decades we plan to move towards other forms of renewable energy – solar and winds are two examples. With the right policies and sufficient investments and political will, this will create cheaper, more stable, and cleaner energy –– a future that is very much worth fighting for.
I hope you make the most of this investment in your security, health, and productivity. And thank you for your warm welcome to the North!
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.