Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

Lighting Africa: Outstanding Products and Distribution Issues
Amanda Reed, 11 Jun 10

Over the last five years Worldchanging has covered a number of stories about the leapfrog potential of increased use of solar power, and solar, portable and LED lighting in Africa. As James Cascio wrote in 2005: "...in the developing world, Africa in particular, solar has the potential to be a life-saver, providing clean energy in the remotest of locations." Rural electrification projects provide the underlying power necessary for bettering education, increasing information access, and enabling or expanding work opportunities for all people, and especially for those living at the base of the pyramid. What follows here is an update on recent design innovations in solar powered, portable, LED lights for Africa and the distribution issues that still exist.

The five winners of the World Bank Group's Lighting Africa 2010 Outstanding Product Awards were recently announced:


When the World Bank and International Finance Corporation started the Lighting Africa program in 2007, it was estimated that Africans spent $17 billion (€12.5 billion) a year on lighting sources such as kerosene lamps that are inefficient, polluting and hazardous, and that 250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa had no access to power. Today the numbers are improving. According to Nathan Wyeth at Next Billion:

There are still 1.6 billion people without access to electricity, but decreasing costs of solar panels and LED lighting have put individual solar-powered lamps at a price that is affordable for much of the base of the pyramid. Solar lantern distribution is projected to grow at 25-40% rates over the next 5 years in Africa.
However, Wyeth continues:
Does this mean the path to modern energy for rural Africa is in clear view? I'm not sure it is, which is why when I'm meeting people at this conference sponsored by the IFC's Lighting Africa program, I'm saying that I'm still looking for killer apps. Engineering better, cheaper products is often a process of putting one foot in front of the other, but distributing them will require side-stepping the barriers that solar energy has continually run up against at every price point.

And even if the goal is defined as lighting for Africa, lighting products themselves may not be the best starting point or a standalone approach, as opposed to more comprehensive platforms for energy access - laying the groundwork to go from portable pico-power retail products to household and community scale energy distribution, in terms of both business infrastructure and customer readiness/ability.


The winners of the Lighting Africa 2010 Outstanding Product Awards are all inspiring and valuable innovations in the field, and Wyeth's call to give more attention to distribution infrastructure is well said. Hopefully a combination of product innovation and improved distribution systems will develop to more successfully and rapidly electrify Africa.


Image sources from top-to-bottom: Children studying at night via Lighting Africa; Sun King light comparison via Greenlight Planet; and Firefly light via Barefoot Power.

Bookmark and Share


Comments

It's funny that shock evolution. An Africa without food, having a LED lamp.

descontos . blog do fabio . famosas


Posted by: Fábio Dantas on 12 Jun 10

Isn't that sort of over-generalizing? Africa doesn't "have no food". It is poverty, bad infrastructure, or market barriers that cause most of the hunger in places like Africa, not a lack of food.


Posted by: Daniella on 14 Jun 10

Post A Comment

Please note that comments will remain open for only 14 days after the article is posted. While previous comments will remain visible, attempts to post new comments after this period will fail. This helps stop comment spam, so your forebearance is appreciated.

The Worldchanging comments are meant to be used for further exploration and evaluation of the ideas covered in our posts. Please note that, while constructive disagreement is fine, insults and abuse are not, and will result in the comment being deleted and a likely ban from commenting. We will also delete at will and without warning comments we believe are designed to disrupt a conversation rather than contribute to it. In short, we'll kill troll posts.

Finally, please note that comments which simply repost copyrighted works or commercial messages will be summarily deleted.

REMEMBER PERSONAL INFO?
Yes No

NAME


EMAIL ADDRESS


URL


COMMENTS



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg