The World Bank has approved the Electricity Access and Renewable Energy Expansion Project in the Solomon Islands, expected to benefit more than 9,300 people in the region through new or improved electricity services, including renewable energy sources such as solar.

Additionally, the $19.95m project will support the Solomon Islands’ government to strengthen its renewable energy generation capacity, while increasing access to grid-supplied electricity and reducing reliance on expensive, imported fossil fuels.

The project will receive the fund through a $5.5m credit, and a $4.75m grant from the International Development Association (IDA).

"Currently, less than 20% of the Solomon Islands population has access to an electrical power supply, and when electricity is available, it is costly."

Additionally, a $7.1m grant will be offered by the Strategic Climate Fund – Scaling-Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program, a $946,750 grant will come from the Global Environment Facility, and a $1.6m grant from the Small Island Developing States Initiative.

Solomon Islands Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Bradley Tovosia said: “Access to energy is very important to increase the quality of life of Solomon Islanders and for the development of businesses.

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“The government is working in partnership with the World Bank and other partners to increase access to electricity especially in remote areas.”

The project is expected to deliver renewable energy hybrid mini-grids, electricity connections in low-income areas.

It will focus on providing electricity connections to households, small businesses, schools and health centres, throughout Honiara and surrounding towns.

World Bank Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands country director Michel Kerf said: “The cost of electricity in the Solomon Islands is among the highest in the world – almost double the average for the Pacific Islands region as a whole – placing a massive financial burden on families and businesses across the country.”

Currently, less than 20% of the Solomon Islands population has access to an electrical power supply, and when electricity is available, it is costly.