Valelevu i Lomaiviti Vua na Gone Turaga na Tui Noikoro;
Minister of Infrastructure and Meterological Services Hon. Jone Usamate;
The Acting Head of Co-operation European, Mr. Adrian Nicolae;
Clay Energy Officials;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and good afternoon to you all.
Sometimes distance is measured in more than kilometres. On a map, Nakoro Village is not far from Pacific Harbour and the resort hotels of the Coral Coast. And it’s not much farther to Suva. Yet in some ways, this village has been living in a different world. Suva and the Coral Coast have had
reliable electrical power for years, but you have had to depend on generators to give you power a few hours a day.
That changed when this new hybrid solar power system was completed just last month. The terrain and relative isolation of the village had made it
prohibitively expensive to extend the national electrical grid to it. But we are determined to meet our objective of ensuring that all Fijians have access to reliable electrical power by 2021, to have 100% renewable energy in Fiji by 2036 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
We are also committed to ending the isolation of our maritime and rural communities and ensuring that they have the same advantages and services as people in the major urban centres. We cannot have two Fijis, one with easy access to education, electrical power, health care and modern conveniences, and another that has to struggle to enjoy the advantages of modern life. So, we have improved our road network, made education truly free, extended legal services and the internet to rural communities, shored up our rural health services, and extended electricity and water to as many rural communities as we can.
Rural communities present a special challenge, especially where electrical power is concerned. And that means we will have to find creative solutions for some of our rural villages. Fortunately, the best solutions today to provide power to rural villages in Fiji are sustainable, and most produce no carbon emissions. And thanks to the assistance we have received from the European Union, we have been able to install a hybrid solar system in Nakoro, at a cost of just more than a Million Dollars.
I thank the European Union on behalf of every Fijian for the friendship and support we’ve received. I am sure the people of this village will offer their thanks to you directly.
By generating power from the sun, the people of this village will have light and power when they need it—so your children can study in the evening, so the women of Nakoro can run sewing machines and weave mats, and so all of you can watch television, freeze and refrigerate food, use computers and run labour-saving appliances and machinery. Having power available at all times will give you more control over time than you have ever had before. And time is a very precious commodity indeed. When you have more of it, you can do more. You can make more.
You can earn more. Now you can decide when you work, when your children study, and when you relax. And there will be no more noise or fumes from generators.
This system is already supplying power to 200 people—41 households, the village church and, eventually, a new health centre. It will generate power when the sun shines and store it for you with a special hybrid system for later use. So you will have the same dependable service as any Fijian on our national grid.
This is the beginning of a new era in Nakoro—an era of greater convenience and greater prosperity. I thank you for inviting me to share it with you. And I am pleased now to officially inaugurate this modern, sustainable, carbon-free electrical power system.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.