Varsities team up on energy project

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 15 May 2004

MIRI: Two universities have forged a partnership with Australia’s Curtin University of Technology to devise a sustainable energy and telecommunications system to help about a million rural folks in Sarawak and Sabah. 

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) have agreed to take part in the project as both states have a large rural population that is deprived of proper electricity and telecommunication facilities, said Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.  

The project would be led by Curtin’s Sarawak campus. 

“This is an important project for both states as we face similar problems in trying to provide sustainable power supply and telecommunication linkages to rural areas, “ he said after launching the project at the campus in Kuala Baram near here yesterday. 

Present at the launch were Curtin vice-chancellor Prof Lance Twomey, Unimas representative Prof Khairuddin Abdul Hamid, UMS representative Assoc Prof Dr Emir Mauludi Husni and Curtin Sarawak's board of directors and lecturers. 

“In Sarawak, there are more than 5,000 rural longhouses and villages. We need to come up with cost-effective ways to provide electricity and telecommunication facilities in a sustainable and renewable manner,” said Dr Chan. 

“Curtin has the expertise and experience in handling such projects in Australia. Our universities want to collaborate with Curtin and devise a system suitable for the local conditions in both Sarawak and Sabah,” he said. 

Dr Chan, who is Sarawak Finance, Industrial Development and Public Utilities Minister, presented an initial state grant of RM58,100 for Curtin and the two universities to kick-start the research. 

The research would be carried out at the Sustainable Energy and Telecommunications (Secom) research unit at the Curtin campus here. 

Dr Chan said the project would have far-reaching consequences because, with sustainable energy in the rural areas, the Government could bridge the huge digital divide between the urban and rural regions significantly. 

In his address, Prof Twomey said Curtin Australia opened a full-fledged branch campus in Sarawak not only for academic purposes but also to help the Malaysian authorities find solutions to problems affecting the local population. 

Two renowned Australian researchers from Curtin’s main campus in Perth – Prof Chem Nayar and Prof Kah-Seng Chung – would lead the project team, which comprised researchers from Curtin, Unimas and UMS as well as several government organisations.  

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