Lighting Africa: A Spotlight on Development

Hundreds of millions of people across Africa lack affordable, reliable and effective lighting and struggle at homes, work, and schools.

When the sun sets on communities across the continent, darkness forbids even the most basic activities, such as cooking and reading. Development is stunted when students cannot study and businesses must close because of a lack of light.

Kerosene lamps and candles have proved poor solutions to these problems: they are often expensive, can be dangerous, and emit barely enough light to brighten a small room.

To address these issues, IFC and the World Bank Group have created the Lighting Africa initiative to develop commercial markets for safe, clean, and affordable lighting alternatives for the 500 million Africans who currently rely on dangerous, polluting and expensive fuel-based lighting.




Lighting Africa Wins Green Award

The Lighting Africa Program was recently awarded the World Bank Group’s 2009 Green Award. The award recognizes excellence and personal commitment to integrating environmental concerns into development programs.


The initiative will introduce a range of modern, off-grid lighting alternatives to the African market to address the lighting needs of rural, urban, and semi-urban customers (predominantly low income households and businesses) without electricity access.

These alternatives include study lights to help children study at night, kiosk and outdoor stall lighting so businesses can operate into the evening, energy saving torches, and indoor domestic lighting.

Effective, Affordable Lighting

To help develop markets for off-grid modern lighting, Lighting Africa has introduced a variety of modern lamps and flashlights into homes and businesses in Ghana and Kenya.

A study of these pilot programs will help determine the most effective lighting solutions for Africa, and to help manufacturers and suppliers deliver appropriate products at affordable prices.





Lighting Africa is operating on a number of fronts and will help introduce modern lighting services in Africa by:





    • Catalyzing the private sector, including strengthening ties between the international lighting industry and local suppliers and service providers to profitably manufacture, market, and distribute significantly lower cost products;
    • Facilitating consumer access to a range of affordable, reliable, and high quality lighting products and services;
    • Improving market conditions for the scale-up of modern lighting products by reducing existing technical, financial, policy, information, and institutional barriers; and,
    • Mobilizing the international community governments, private sector, international organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs)—to aggressively promote penetration of modern lighting services for the poor in Africa.


A cornerstone of IFC’s clean energy initiatives, Lighting Africa is currently identifying the most effective distribution channels to take products where they are most needed. Lighting Africa is developing partnerships with large private sector firms interested to act as bulk purchasing agents for off-grid lighting products

As another key part of its strategy, Lighting Africa is seeking to help governments introduce low cost lighting in health, education, water, and other sectors and will work with private rural industries, businesses, cooperatives, and NGOs to promote and disseminate lighting products to their customers.

The developmental benefits associated with improved lighting are clear: a better quality of life for millions.

For more information contact:
Jason Hopps
Communications Officer
Johannesburg, South Africa
Phone: +27 11 731 3120