USAID and U.S. University Partner with Unitech for Solar Energy Training

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Arizona State University have partnered to train local trainers and technicians to install, operate, and maintain clean energy systems in the Pacific Islands. The program, called Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy or VOCTEC, has established a partnership with the PNG University of Technology (Unitech) in Lae to deliver solar energy training. The launch of the program will take place on July 21 at Unitech’s East Taraka Campus, and the training will continue through July 25.

VOCTEC’s Train-the-Trainer approach will provide technicians a support system and build Unitech’s capacity by providing curriculum, equipment, and training manuals. The training program also incorporates gender issues and focuses on entrepreneurial skills.

Seven million Pacific Islanders cannot power their homes because they are too far from existing electricity grids. “Solar is the perfect technology to provide power to these remote communities, but they often lack the technical support to install and maintain solar systems,” highlighted Maurice Knight, USAID Pacific Islands Director.

VOCTEC Pacific Coordinator, Gavin Pereira, said, “we are excited about our partnership with PNG’s Unitech and our engagement with the 12 solar energy technicians. They are from different rural provinces and will take the skills they learn back to their communities and improve livelihoods.”

Through the VOCTEC project, the United States is building local capacity to improve the sustainability of renewable energy investments and infrastructure in the Pacific region. The Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) face a number of barriers to clean energy development including limited financial resources, inadequate local human capacity to support systems, high turnover of trained local technicians, and a lack of the standardized training for technicians, operators, and engineers. Improvements in energy efficiency and development of clean energy alternatives will support economic growth, improve resiliency to climate change impacts, and increase energy security. For more information about the VOCTEC project, please visit