Light Up Timor

After the last few years, the Sustainable Communities Committee has been working towards receiving a Rotary Global Grant for a solar energy project in Timor Leste, called Light Up Timor. In mid-2017, we had obtained sufficient pledges from clubs and other organisations to prepare a global grant application.

However, at the same time, our primary partner in this project, the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), decided to review their solar installation projects, the Village Lighting System, in Timor Leste. Working in cooperation with the government of Timor Leste, they had identified 35,000 households in the country that would never obtain electricity from the National Grid. At the end of the review, the ATA concluded that the project had been phenomenally successful in bringing lighting to 1,960 homes in Timor Leste, benefitting over 10,000 people. However, as it required considerable external funding from donors, they concluded that the model would not be able to deliver solar energy to the remaining households in need of solar energy quickly enough and that a better model was required.

After much research, the ATA now believes that a Pay-as-you-go model, based on a successful system in East Africa, is the best way forward. This will require supporting a social enterprise, based in Timor Leste, to manage the Pay-as-you-go system, using similar elements established with proven Village Lighting System model and the expertise of the ATA and its partners in Timor Leste.

We are now looking at partnering with the ATA in running a proof of concept of this Pay-as-you-go system. As of mid-2018, Harry Andrews from the ATA is just about to travel to Timor Leste to identify suitable social enterprises and to complete a community needs assessment, as required by the Rotary Foundation. Based on Harry's research, we will then proceed to develop an application for a Global Grant, with a budget that will be similar to the earlier Light up Timor project. Further details, including the next steps and timeline, are outlined in the attachment.

We are confident that the project will align with two of the six areas of focus of the Rotary Foundation:

  • Basic education and literacy
  • Economic and community development

This revised approach will provide solar energy more quickly and cheaply to the thousands of needy families in Timor Leste.