New Zealand High Commissioner Tiffany Babington signed a NZ$11 million grant funding arrangement for the upgrade of Nuku’alofa’s electricity network today with the Acting Minister of Finance and National Planning, Hon Mateni Tapueluelu.

New Zealand’s grant contribution will directly benefit over 2,000 households and businesses in 12 villages in Kolomotu’a and Kolofo’ou, the first stage of the five-year Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project.

The project will deliver economic and social benefits to these villages through a more stable source of electricity, safer connections, reduced diesel costs, and a more resilient network in times of extreme weather conditions.

The project will be implemented in partnership with Tonga Power Limited over the next two years.

“New Zealand has been a long-term partner in efforts to improve Tonga’s electricity supply, and access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” announced New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Winston Peters, during his visit to Tonga in March 2018.

The Nuku’alofa Network Upgrade Project follows on from the successful upgrade of 55 rural villages in Tongatapu. New Zealand has provided grant funding of NZ$27.7 million which will enable 11,188 households to be connected to a network built to New Zealand’s standards by December 2018.

HE Tiffany Babington also presented Hon Mateni Tapueluelu with New Zealand’s NZ$3 million contribution to replenish the Tongatapu Village Network Upgrade supplies that were used to restore the electricity network on Tongatapu following the damage caused by TC Gita.

The Government of Tonga estimated the energy sector reconstruction costs at US$46 million and requested assistance from New Zealand, Australia and the Asian Development Bank to support the energy sector recovery following Tropical Cyclone Gita.

”New Zealand hopes this NZ$14 million investment will assist the Government of Tonga to meets its energy targets,” New Zealand’s High Commissioner Tiffany Babington said.