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Digicel Launches First Solar-Charging Station for Mobile Phone Users in Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 4 December, 2013 —Digicel, with support from the New Zealand government and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has launched a trial of solar charging stations for mobile phones users in Papua New Guinea. The project aims to improve connectivity for people in isolated parts of the country.
The first Digicel solar-charging station has been installed at Hula, a village two hours from Port Moresby, with other trials underway in Papua New Guinea’s Southern and Sepik regions, and in the Highlands. If the trial is a success there may be more than 500 stations scattered across rural areas by 2015, allowing 500,000 people in isolated parts of Papua New Guinea to connect with family and friends, and to do business.
“We developed these new solar stations that harness the power of Papua New Guinea’s ever-present sunshine to simultaneously charge up to 20 phones,” said Digicel’s Chief Operating Officer Darren McLean. “People won’t need to switch off their phones to conserve precious power or travel great distances to recharge phones at major town centers.”
Modeled on a successful project in Haiti, where Digicel developed the world’s first large-scale solar mobile-charging solution, the solar stations for Papua New Guinea have been designed to include a large streetlight – also powered by the sun – to help improve nighttime safety in the high-crime country.
“These new solar stations are important infrastructure that will transform communities and improve lives,” said Robert Turare, spokesman for the New Zealand High Commission in Papua New Guinea. “We strongly urge community leaders and members to look after and support the solar-charging systems, so that this project can be rolled out nationally and people across Papua New Guinea can always stay in touch with family and friends in other provinces.”
“The solar stations will be partly owned by community members in each region – a way to achieve economic growth that includes more sectors of society,” said IFC Regional Manager for the Pacific Gavin Murray. “The pilot will help entrepreneurs obtain funding to set up the stations and provide training and support for their maintenance.”
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in more than 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In FY13, our investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .
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About Digicel
Digicel Group Limited is a leading global communications provider with operations in 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific. After 12 years of operation, total investment to date stands at over $4.5 billion worldwide. The company is renowned for delivering best value, best service and best network. Visit www.digicelgroup.com for more information.
About NZ Aid
The New Zealand Aid Programme mission is to support sustainable development in developing countries to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world. It has a thematic focus on improving economic well-being and a geographic focus on the Pacific. The New Zealand Aid Programme is the official development assistance of the New Zealand Government.