Lighting Africa is a joint IFC and World Bank program that works towards improving access to better lighting in areas not yet connected to the electricity grid.
Lighting Africa catalyzes and accelerates the development of sustainable markets for affordable, modern off-grid lighting solutions for low-income households and micro-enterprises across the continent.
About 600 million people, and more than 10 million micro-enterprises, across Africa have no access to electricity. They use inefficient and costly fuel-based lighting sources such as kerosene lamps, which greatly curtail their socio-economic activities once darkness sets in.
To date, Lighting Africa and its partners have made it possible for more than 6.9 million people in Africa to access clean, safe lighting.
What are modern off-grid lighting products?
The Lighting Africa program works with off-grid lighting products or systems that are stand-alone, rechargeable and can be installed, assembled and used easily without requiring assistance from a technician. These products are affordable, typically costing less than US$ 100, some retailing at US$ 10 or less.
Modern off-grid lighting products have three key components:
- electricity source, most commonly a small 1-5W solar panel;
- a modern rechargeable battery, increasingly lithium-ion; and
- a modern lantern or lamp, usually with an LED (light emitting diode) bulb.
These lighting products come in many forms. The batteries and solar panel may be built into the lamp, or any one of the components can be separate modules that are easily connected to each other using the ‘do-it-yourself’ plug-and-play technology.
During the day, the solar panel is placed directly in the sun to generate electricity that recharges the battery. At night, the electricity is available to power the lamp. Products that meet Lighting Africa Performance Targets guarantee users at least four hours of good, consistent lighting each night after a sunny day of recharging.
Other modern off-grid lighting products on the African market are dynamo-powered, with the batteries charged by electricity that is mechanically generated through hand or foot pedaling.
Additional features of modern off-grid products that are popular with consumers include mobile phone charging kits, which enable consumers to connect and charge their phones directly from the solar panel, or from the lighting product’s battery.