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Solar power for communes

Solar power for communes

The offices of commune officials along the Tonle Sap basin will soon be solar-powered as part of a poverty-reduction project backed by the Asian Development Bank.

Some 123 off-the-grid commune council offices in Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces will be fitted with solar panels to power computers and support the online flow of information to Cambodia’s rural areas, according to Chanthou Hem, senior project officer at the ADB.

“This immediately opens up enormous opportunities for information gathering at the commune level, primarily in the context of TSSD [Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholder Development Project],” he said in an emailed statement.

Extra power will foster access to information on improved agricultural technologies and marketing opportunities, Hem added.

The solar installation forms part of the $51.1 million TSSD, which aims to improve conditions for 630,000 households along the Tonle Sap by 2020 through improved farming techniques and better quality seeds.

At an average cost of $2,400 per commune, the panels are to be installed by mid-2014, with internet access and IT training to be completed by the end of the year.

“The installation of the solar panels will help to raise awareness of the opportunity to invest in solar power and their application may spread within the commune,” Hem said.

The project covers an additional 73 communes that are already hooked up to the grid. But for those that are not, solar is the right way to go, Ny Kimsan, the project manager at the National Committee for Subnational Democratic Development Secretariat, said.

“I think that solar power is a good alternative for cheap electricity and for the environment,” Kimsan said.

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