ADB to Climate-Proof Nuku'alofa Electricity Network in Tonga

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a $6.8 million grant to help reconstruct and improve disaster resilience of the Nuku’alofa electricity network that was damaged by Cyclone Gita in February 2018.

The support follows the $6 million assistance ADB provided to the Government of Tonga on 16 February under the Pacific Disaster Resilience Program and an additional $1 million under the ADB-supported Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund for humanitarian relief efforts on 22 February.

Apart from the grant from ADB’s Disaster Response Facility, Tonga Power Limited and the Government of Tonga will also contribute $1.48 million and $1.14 million, respectively, to the Cyclone Gita Recovery Project—expected to cost about $9.42 million in total.

“Cyclone Gita damaged and destroyed buildings, livelihoods, and power lines,” said ADB Climate Change Specialist Ms. Hanna Uusimaa. “This project aims to build back better and restore a reliable electricity supply to priority areas in Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa.”

Priority sections of the Nuku’alofa electricity network will be rehabilitated and upgraded to a higher standard of disaster resilience. The Government of Tonga has estimated the energy sector reconstruction costs at $45.9 million. ADB is working in close coordination with the Government of New Zealand, which is supporting a separate post-cyclone power project.

Under the ADB-supported project, existing high-voltage and low-voltage overhead network will be modernized using aerial-bundled conductors, and by installing new power distribution transformers and new underground service cables to customer premises with new smart meters.

The project is viewed as part of a rolling program to eventually reconstruct all of Nuku’alofa’s electricity network, resulting in better access to reliable power and less damage during bouts of extreme weather.