IFC Brings Off-Grid Lighting to Millions in Rural India

August 14, 2012

The recent power outages in India, the worst blackout in the country's history, affected arguably 400 million people. For another 400 million, this is an everyday reality, as they continue to depend on kerosene, candles, charcoal, and firewood to meet lighting needs; and for some two million people living in the country's rural areas, this reality is set to change, thanks to IFC's recently launched off-grid lighting initiative.

Taking a leaf from the IFC-World Bank funded-Lighting Africa program, IFC's new lighting program in Asia, co-funded by the Italian and United States governments, will provide safe, clean, and affordable off-grid lighting over the next three years.

A Four-Pronged Approach

To achieve the scale to be truly impactful, IFC will work with stakeholders, including:

  • Manufacturers of solar lighting equipment, to develop quality products and assist with quality assurance standards
  • Distributors to penetrate untapped markets and design scalable business models by supporting them through market research
  • Financial institutions and small and medium enterprises to increase access to working capital for companies and underserved populations
  • Consumers, by conducting mass education campaigns to generate awareness and demand

“Only two children could study with a kerosene lamp, but this solar lamp gives enough light for six children to study together. Children don't complain of any burning sensation in their eyes anymore,” said Rekha Kumari, a beneficiary who hails from a village in the low-income state of Bihar.

Sharing Knowledge

In its mandate to provide technical and market intelligence, IFC commissioned two studies. "Lighting Asia: Solar Off-Grid Lighting" presents the market analysis of seven countries in Asia. The second report "From Gap to Opportunity," estimates that there is a $37 billion market opportunity for improved energy services at the base of the pyramid, underscoring the fact that energy access is a real market opportunity for the private sector.


In line with IFC’s climate change strategy, this program will avoid an estimated 64,000 tons of carbon emissions. “The Lighting Asia/India program will serve as a model to address clean energy needs for the most vulnerable in rural India, while promoting local entrepreneurship and sustainable rural development,” says IFC South Asia Director Thomas Davenport.

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