Cabinet has given the green light to the Fiji Rural Electrification Fund (FREF) Support Project in collaboration with the UNDP.
This initiative aims to further the government’s commitment to provide affordable, renewable electricity to rural communities.
Established in 2017, the FREF serves as an enhancement to the rural electrification program initiated in 1993.
The fund was set up as a ‘special purpose vehicle’ to foster public-private partnerships, supplementing the government’s renewable energy efforts carried out by the Department of Energy.
FREF, with backing from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, has powered 47 households on Vio Island near Lautoka since 2018 using a solar mini-grid system.
This system centrally connects all residential and public buildings, utilizing smart meters to ensure efficient energy usage and real-time monitoring.
In a strategic move to optimize operations, the FREF secretariat services and Trust Fund management will shift from the Climate Change Division to the Department of Energy.
This transition is expected to hasten technical work, bolster the Department of Energy’s capabilities in partnership with UNDP, and streamline the development of rural mini-grids.
Additionally, there will be revisions to the FREF Constitution to better align with ongoing rural development and gender empowerment projects.