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Friday, September 07, 2007

World Bank Launches Program to Improve Lighting for Sub-Saharan Africa

Source: International Herald Tribune

Lacking electricity, Africans spend an estimated $17 billion (?12.5 billion) a year on lighting sources such as kerosene lamps that are inefficient, polluting and hazardous.

The World Bank intends to change these conditions with a program launched Wednesday to provide lighting for the 250 million people in sub-Saharan African who have no access to power. WASHINGTON: Lacking electricity, Africans spend an estimated $17 billion (?12.5 billion) a year on lighting sources such as kerosene lamps that are inefficient, polluting and hazardous.

The World Bank intends to change these conditions with a program launched Wednesday to provide lighting for the 250 million people in sub-Saharan African who have no access to power.

Working with its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, the bank intends to develop market conditions for the supply and distribution of non-fossil fuel lighting products.

These products can include fluorescent light bulbs and light-emitting diodes for use in rural and urban areas not connected to an electricity grid. Power would come from the sun, the wind and mechanical devices such as pedals.

The bank said there is a potentially huge market for modern lighting products that are safe and reliable, that provide higher-quality light and that are cost competitive with fuel-based lamps.

It said more than 350 companies have expressed interest in the Lighting Africa initiative.

"Modern lighting will mean improved air quality and safety for millions of people in Africa," said S. Vijay Ayer, manager of the bank's energy sector for Africa. "It will mean longer reading hours for students and longer business hours for small shops."

Gerard Kleisterlee, president and chief executive of Netherlands-based Philips, said in a recent speech that the rural lighting market, like many markets for low-income people in developing countries, is not very well known or explored.

"It is essential that governments and internationals organizations such as the World Bank, (non government organizations) and various companies get together in a network to work out the appropriate business models," Kleisterlee said.

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