Associated Press has reported that Haiti’s president Michel Martelly hopes to double the number of rural households that receive electricity within two years through loans to buy solar kits. Dubbed “give me light, give me life”, the programme is part of a US$45 million energy package that aims to bring electricity to families that live in two of the most remote corners of the country – the Grand-Anse and the northwest province.
The smaller Haitian banks have been called on to issue US$30 million in loans with an interest rate of 7%, payable over seven years. The credit will help families purchase solar kits that will each cost between US$250 and US$350.
At a news conference, President Martelly said, "If a country wants to talk about development it's imperative to talk about energy and electricity.”
Following the earthquake two years ago, over half a million Haitians are still living in nearly 800 tent camps, making the need for energy in the country critical to the reconstruction of much of the devastated southern half of Haiti.
The 40-year-old state-run Electricity of Haiti can only power 200,000 homes, said President Martelly and only 30% of the population in this country of 10 million has access to a power supply. Even then, most parts of Haiti only have electricity for a few hours a day, forcing many businesses and some homes to rely on generators and expensive fuel imports.
Another part of the program, budgeted for US$15 million, will give the government loans so that mayors in the countryside can line 375 kilometres of streets with lamps, due to begin in the next three years.
The government project will also focus on urban areas. It will repair street lights and electric posts in 10 popular neighbourhoods with US$300,000 from the national treasury.
The program joins other efforts to boost energy production in Haiti. Last summer, the Nation of Islam purchased a US$150,000 solar water purification system for the country. There have also been solar projects organised by students from the US bringing portable solar lamps to under developed areas of the country.
The Inter-American Development Bank last month announced that it had approved a US$20 million grant to help refurbish Haiti's Peligre hydroelectric plant, the country's largest renewable energy generation facility.