The Government of Japan will be providing a grant of approximately VT.5 billion for the construction of an additional hydropower facility at the Sarakata River in Santo, and the upgrade of existing transformer facilities.

The Minister of Finance, Johnny Koanapo, and the Resident Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Rika Uemura, signed the grant agreement while the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Marc Ati and the Japanese Ambassador to Vanuatu, Chiba Hirohisa, signed the Exchange of Notes in the presence of the Minister of Climate Change, Bruno Leingkon, responsible for energy, yesterday.

Constructed by the government of Japan in 1993 and later enhanced in 2006, Sarakata River Hydroelectric Power Plant is the main source of electricity in Luganville, Santo. Currently, the facility alone could not cover the electricity demand where daytime peak load reached 1, 932kW in 2016.

Therefore, power supply had been covered with diesel power plants which depend on expensive import fuel. The electricity demand has been growing and is expected to continue into the future.

Ambassador Hirohisa said the additional facility and upgrade is expected to “reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and ensure a stable supply of clean and sustainable domestic energy, which will contribute to improving the quality of life of the people of Santo and it surrounding areas as well as to the further development of local industries”.

“The world is now under increasing threat from climate change. A positive and rapid transition to renewable energy is an urgent and unavoidable task for all countries,” he stated.

“I would like to commend Vanuatu's determination to increase the proportion of electricity generated from renewable energy sources to 100% by 2030, as stated in its Updated National Energy Roadmap 2016 -2030.

“I believe the construction of these additional facilities will contribute to the achievement of this goal."

Ambassador Hirohisa said Japan will continue to support Vanuatu, following its graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status last year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ati said this project will not only mitigate the economy difficulties and contribute positive to the socio-economic development of Vanuatu with the goal to achieve its target of 100% renewable emergency but will also address climate change as the single threat to humanity, which the country has been so vocal about.

“It is also worth noting Japan's commitment to addressing climate change impact through use of clean and sustainable renewable energy in major infrastructure projects such as the Sarakata Hydro power, which promote a shift away from reliance of hydrocarbon energy," he said.

He thanked the government of Japan for its continuous assistance to Vanuatu's development aspirations.

Ati assured the Vanuatu government's support to the project and commitment to ensure its implementation, in accordance to the terms and conditions stipulated in the Exchange of Notes and Grant Aid Agreement signed yesterday.

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