Timor-Leste PayGo Update

Image: John Tilleard

Renew’s International Projects Manager Harry Andrews is in Timor-Leste right now working on our Solar for Timor project. Here’s an update from the project’s last few months. 

In August 2018, Renew began a small pilot of 60 homes with a new model for solar power in Timor Leste.  The project involves an energy financing model called Pay-As-You-Go (or PayGo).  Under this model, families can pay off their solar systems over time.  This is similar to topping up a pre-paid mobile phone: a voucher is purchased for $5 by a family, the code is entered into the solar system which provides one month of electricity, then at the end of the month a further voucher is entered to keep the system operating.  After 24 months, the system is unlocked, if families are up to date in their payments, and no more codes are required to be entered. (An article on the PayGo system was featured in Issue 47 of Renew magazine.)

The key advantage of the PayGo model is that it recycles capital into lighting up further homes.  Further, it provides a consistent revenue stream to a local enterprise so they can hire staff and cover operational expenses.  The importance of a local enterprise cannot be overstated. It becomes the local service point for families who have opted into to the initiative.

A Melbourne local, John Tilleard instigated the pilot and provided some initial funding.  Renew has worked with John to support a local social enterprise, Ho Musan Ida, to implement the pilot in the Baguia sub-District.  The pilot has now been operating for more than 12 months.  95% of households are up to date on their repayments and, on average, families are 57% through their payment plans.  These are very positive results and there has been significant interest from others in the community seeking to participate in the future.

Renew ran a targeted campaign in May and June to support the expansion of the pilot. We were successful in raising over $40,000 (including funds matching by a generous donor).  In August 2019, Renew worked with Ho Musan Ida and John to fund the manufacture and transportation of another 200 solar systems to Baguia.  The systems arrived in October and Ho Musan Ida will be installing the systems over the coming months.

In September, Renew received news that it was successful in raising funds from Australian Ethical and Rotary to help support further expansion of the PayGo pilot.

Our work in Timor-Leste wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our donors. You can donate here to allow us to support more remote Timorese villages.