Increasing Access to Affordable and Modern Off-grid Lighting

SBA project


In partnership with: Africa Renewable Energy and Access Grants Program; Climate and Development Knowledge Network; Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid; Energy Sector Management Assistance Program; Global Environment Facility; Italy; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Norway; Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Advisory Facility; Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership; United States 


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The Opportunity


Nearly 600 million people in Africa – about 60-65 percent of the population – are not on the electricity grid.  Most rely on expensive, polluting and dangerous lighting fuels such as kerosene lamps and candles, or use costly battery-powered torches.


Lighting Africa works with the off-grid lighting industry to develop commercial and sustainable markets for cleaner, affordable and high quality lighting solutions.  Modern portable solar lanterns with lasting components, mobile charging features, and in some cases “pay-as-you-go” credit schemes are increasingly becoming a viable lighting and energy alternative for consumers without electricity or with an unreliable grid connection.


Today, more companies are entering the market, quality standards and customer needs are driving innovation, and economies of scale are making lamps more affordable. As a result, modern lighting products are fast becoming must-have products for off-grid households, much as mobile phones are.


Despite the impressive growth of the market for quality off-grid lighting products in Africa, which has been doubling every year, only 2 percent of the African population has access to modern, cleaner and better lighting.  Much remains to be done. 


Lighting Africa is working with the industry to develop and expand this market with an objective of reaching 250 million people with better lighting by 2030.


Moving to better, cleaner, and cheaper lighting will have social, economic, and health benefits and increase productivity for households and small businesses.



Our Approach


Lighting Africa works with companies entering the African market to develop renewable solar energy products by:


  • Setting and rolling out an international quality standard for low-cost off-grid lighting products.
  • Providing advice and guidance to manufacturers to develop products that will meet Lighting Africa’s standards.
  • Providing information on market size, consumer preferences and behavior, business models, and distribution channels that enables companies to design quality products and facilitates their entry into the market.
  • Facilitating access to finance for distributors, retailers and consumers.
  • Raising consumer awareness about the availability of solar lighting products and their benefits.


Lighting Africa’s success is now replicated in Asia and  is already demonstrating great results in India.



Results & Impact *


  • 6.9 million people in Africa gained access to clean and safe lighting.
  • 22 million people in Kenya and in Ghana have been reached by a consumer education campaign on the benefits of clean off-grid lighting.
  • Lighting Global's* quality assurance standards were adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), making them a world standard for clean, off-grid lighting products.
  • 1.4 million off-grid lighting products sold have passed Lighting Global’s quality tests.
  • Seven microfinance institutions started to provide microloans for consumers to purchase off-grid lighting products that have passed Lighting Global’s quality tests.
  • Avoided 139,000 Mt/year of GHG emissions - equivalent to taking 26,000 cars off the road.
  • Lighting Africa’s successful model is now being replicated in Asia.


* Lighting Global serves as an umbrella for the Quality Assurance framework, which was originally developed out of the Lighting Africa program.



 *As of December 2012



SBA project quote


Related Links and Resources


Print a two-page fact sheet on this project [PDF] »

Modern Lighting for Africa's Development: IFC-World Bank Lighting Africa Program [Video] »

Lighting Africa in Kenya [Video] »

IFC Helps Promote Off-grid Lighting Solutions in Rural India [Video] »




Bénédicte Walter | Nairobi

+254-20-2759448 |