Residents in rural and remote areas of Papua New Guinea will be able to charge their mobile phones at solar stations as part of a nationwide network.
As part of the project, these power stations will be operated as small businesses, with locals selling solar energy for a small fee.
Across Papua New Guinea, access to electricity is a problem, and charging mobile phones is a problem, because only about 10% of the population is connected to the national grid.
Digicel's initiative was supported by the New Zealand Government and the World Bank International Finance Corporation.
The first unit of the 30-year pilot project was launched in Hula Town, about three hours'drive from the capital Port Moresby.
Gavin Murray, the company's Pacific business manager, told Pacific Beat that every station was a small business.
"So somebody controlled the box and they opened it. It basically looked like a cell phone charging station you saw at the airport, where you could plug it in directly and it had all the different connections for different types of phones," he said.
"There is no such power plug, it's just the interface of your mobile phone.
"In return for charging a small fee for mobile phone charging, users or operators must maintain and support the operation of their devices.
"In fact, all batteries are solar panels that generate electricity and store it in boxes. Once the batteries are full, the capacity of the batteries can meet two to three days'charging requirements," Murray said.
The pilot project will test the concept at 30 locations in remote and rural areas of Papua New Guinea, with an average of 2,000 people in a radius of 3 kilometres.
If the pilot is successful, it is planned to expand the project to 500 locations throughout the country.
"The cost of these products is not insignificant, but not huge.
What we need to do is work with Digicel to explore how to effectively achieve this goal in business models.
"They are prepared to pay for the construction of these facilities in exchange for a significant increase in business," Murray said.
The charging unit is also connected to an LED lamp.
Mr. Murray said this could make the station a community conference area.
"So now having an effective street light means that people can meet safely, and they can use it for other activities and activities," he said.
Murray said there are rumors that mobile and smartphone technologies are changing the way rural communities do business.
"There are stories about small farmers or fishermen who call or send text messages to the market in advance to find out what is in short supply and what is the price, and then try to enter the market," he said.
There are many other uses for mobile phones, Murray said. -
Their light provides important lighting at night.
"One is as a flashlight or light during childbirth, as well as for health and education, and even do homework on the phone, so that the ability to charge the phone. . .
It's a huge benefit for the community, "he said.
Theme: Telecom, Small-business,papua-new-