Posted by: Home Strange Home | September 4, 2009

Lighting Africa

We take electric lighting in our daily lives completely for granted.  But in Sub-Saharan Africa, many people don’t have access to any electricity at all.  In fact, 74% of the African population doesn’t have electricity, and that goes up to 90% when we look at the rural population alone.  

People living “off-grid” rely on alternative sources of energy, such as candles, charcoal, kerosene, and biomass.  These fuel-based forms of lighting are expensive for families to purchase, and obtaining fuel for cooking is a daily struggle.  It is estimated that African households and small businesses collectively spend $17 billion on fuel-based energy each year.  Many households spend up to 30% of their disposable income on lighting, leading to so-called “energy poverty.”  Moreover, fuel-based lighting causes indoor pollution, pose a fire hazard, and produces greenhouse gas emissions. 

Efforts are being made to address this problem.  Lighting Africa is a programme set up by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to encourage the global private sector lighting industry, as well as local businesses and entrepreneurs, to develop modern lighting solutions for off-grid customers in Africa.  The goal is that for the same amount of money households currently spend on kerosene, they could instead purchase more efficient lighting technologies such as LED bulbs, flashlights, solar lamps, fluorescent lights, and human-cranking technologies.  Lighting Africa has an annual budget of $12 million. 

Source: www.lightingafrica.org and Developments Issue 46 (2009).

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