Guyana has launched the Sustainable Business Models for Rural Electrification and Energy Access project that will allow for at least 6,000 homes across 25 hinterland communities to receive solar home systems.
The project, which is being spearheaded by MPI’s Hinterland Electrification Unit (HEU), is a collaboration with the not-for-profit company, CARIBSAVE, and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group. MIF has contributed US$1.3 million towards the US$1.7 million project.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, noted that, in Guyana, over 80 per cent of hinterland communities have no access to electricity, while the coastlands boast a nearly 100 per cent electrification rate.
“The unbalance is glaring. It is no secret that the hinterland remains the reserve of Guyana’s wealth; therefore, if we can create the infrastructure that will improve energy availability for rural communities, the result will be a win-win for everyone…rural electrification improves social, environmental and economic parameters of rural livelihood,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said that the glaring disparity between the electrification rates must be rectified and that the government has allocated GUY$110 million (One Guyana dollar =US$0.04 cents) in the 2016 national budget to close the electrification rate gap that exists between urban areas and the hinterland.
She said the surge in renewable energy sources will lead to an overall positive impact on the environment.
“Energy is so critical for our survivability; its inaccessibility should be treated as a human rights issue,” she said, adding that the project will bring drastic improvement to people’s lives and communities through the improvements of public infrastructure, living conditions and health and education facilities; through the provision of income generating opportunities; and through the building of capacity for improved energy services.
Meanwhile, CARIBSAVE Caribbean Regional Director, Judi Clarke, said over the years, the company has focussed on a number of areas, including climate change; risk and resilience; biodiversity, ecosystems and marine conservation; and low carbon development and renewable energy.
“Energy demands are growing worldwide yet approximately 1.5 billion have no access to electricity…we are therefore very excited to embark upon this project,” she said.
A government statement said that the key objective of the project is the increase sustainable, affordable, and reliable access to renewable energy technologies to rural communities while ultimately improving the quality of lives for those living in the hinterland regions. The project is also an integral part of Guyana’s broader Sustainable Energy Programme.
The project will also focus on the development of business models for solar photovoltaic systems which will be installed in community buildings in the 25 communities. Additionally, community members and other energy sector agencies will be trained in technical, operational, social and environmental aspects of the project.