Second Lighting Africa conference highlights huge leap forward for renewable lighting

20-05-2010, Nairobi, Kenya

Lighting Africa, an initiative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank aims to transform the lives of 2.5 million people by 2012 by developing a commercially viable platform for the development of low-cost off-grid lighting. It aims to reach 250 million people by 2030.

In much of sub-Saharan Africa, households rely on costly, inefficient and often hazardous fuel-based products such as kerosene lamps or candles that consume up to 30% of household incomes.

According to Dana Rysankova, the World Bank’s Program Manager for Lighting Africa, during the last two years, that continent has moved from the periphery to the center of the off-grid lighting sector. In 2008, there were few products specifically developed for the African market. Today, there are more than 70 products from 50 manufacturers. There is also a wide variety of goods between $25-50, and a growing number of good products under $25.

The fact was highlighted dramatically at the second Lighting Africa conference and trade fair, an event funded in part by REEEP, held from 18-20th May in Nairobi. The second of its kind, following the first conference in Ghana in 2008, the event attracted more than 600 participants and 50 exhibitors and introduced a new generation of affordable and better quality off-grid lighting products targeting low-income consumer.

The Outstanding Products Awards, announced at a gala dinner on May 18th, recognised the best products available in Sub-Saharan African countries, selected from more than 30 products tested in 2009 and 2010.  The winners included Barefoot Power - Firefly 12 LED; Barefoot Power – PowaPack; D.light Design - Nova S200; Greenlight Planet - Sun King; Philips – Udaymini; Solux - LED-50; and SunTransfer - SunTransfer 2.

Patrick Avato, Head of IFC Climate Change Advisory Services at IFC, said ― Consumers are today spending an estimated $10-17 billion on fuel-based lighting products. This ties 10-30 percent of their disposable income to inefficient lighting with negative health impacts. The new generation of lighting products presented at the trade fair can help fill in the gap in a cleaner, more efficient way until electricity reaches everyone.  The conference also featured interviews with 14 of the winners of the Development Marketplace Awards from the first Lighting Africa conference in 2008 in Accra, Ghana.

This new sector also received a boost from the signing of a letter of intent to form an industry association dedicated to off-grid lighting solutions. The aim of the association is to formalize the sector growth by setting quality standards and working with governments and multilateral organizations to maintain momentum for developing the off-grid lighting market.

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