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Tongan Schools go Solar; Is it Possible to Deliver Development Projects with Cost-Effective Partnerships?
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1  University of Canterbury

Abstract: In 2012 a group of volunteering University of Canterbury (UC) staff, students and alumni worked in partnership with the Kingdom of Tonga Ministry of Education and Training (MET), Tongan State-owned enterprise Tonga Power Ltd (TPL) and local contractors, to design, procure and install photovoltaic (PV) systems of 8 kW peak in five Tongan High Schools. The project was funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in an effort to assist Tongan high schools to reduce their relatively expensive utility related costs and to enable schools the financial freedom to invest in educational resources. The project was implemented in a unique multi party Pubic Private Non Profit Partnership model to utilise the resource pool of UC and provide practical academic opportunities to university students while providing overseas development assistance to Tonga. This paper presents the planning and execution of this project, and discusses the areas of challenges, opportunities, success and failure by revisiting the unique partnership model, in concept and in practice. To understand schools’ expectations and perspective from a beneficiary point of view, staff and students from each school were interviewed during the installation. Subsequently, staff from each school were surveyed as part of a monitoring and evaluation study. Analysis of stakeholder interviews and recipient schools' survey results are presented and discussed with recommendations to execute similar multi-party sustainable development projects effectively, particularly in small island developing countries.
Keywords: Tonga, Photovoltaic, Schools, Development, Public Private Non Profit Partnership