Today, there are about 789 million* people worldwide living without access to electricity – down from 1.2 billion in 2010. Despite this significant progress, under current and planned policies, an estimated 620 million people will remain without access in 2030, 85 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

The majority of those living without modern energy services rely on kerosene, candles, battery torches, or other fossil fuel-powered technologies for lighting. These traditional solutions are expensive, harmful to health, hazardous and polluting. They resign the poorest people on the planet to a life of energy poverty, which constrains economic development and impedes access to education, livelihood development, health, and basic services including communications, water, and transport.

Lighting Global is the World Bank Group’s initiative to rapidly increase access to off-grid solar energy for the 789 million people living without electricity world-wide. Lighting Global – managed by IFC and the World Bank, with support from the Energy Sector Management Assistant Program (ESMAP) – works with manufacturers, distributors, governments, and other development partners to build and grow the modern off-grid solar energy market. Our programs are funded with support from ESMAP, the Public – Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF), the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land, and Sea (IMELS), and the IKEA Foundation.

To date, nearly 180 million people have benefited from using Lighting Global quality verified solar products, and more than 52 million people are currently meeting their basic (Tier 1) electricity needs with these products. Over 42 million quality verified products have been sold since 2009. Since then, about 47 million metric tons of CO2e** have been avoided due to the use of quality verified products. Learn more about our impact.

The strength of the Lighting Global program comes from a programmatic approach addressing specific needs across the supply chain. The program toolkit includes:

  • Quality AssuranceIn order to protect consumers from poor-quality products and prevent the eroding of consumer confidence in off-grid products in the process, we created an international quality standard for solar-powered devices and solar home systems. We also advise manufacturers on the quality standards.
  • Market Intelligence: We conduct market research and publish the findings, demonstrating the extensive opportunities presented by the off-grid market and providing critical data to help manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to make informed business decisions.
  • Access to Finance: Access to finance has been identified as a critical need for the functioning and growth of the off-grid market. We facilitate access to finance for manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers.
  • Business Development: We address impediments to the market’s development, and work with individual firms to scale their businesses, providing on-the-ground business-to-business support and linkages to build the last mile supply chain.
  • Consumer Awareness: We raise consumer awareness about emerging solar products in nascent markets.
  • Policy and Partnering with Government: We work with governments towards removing policy and regulatory entry barriers in order to increase access to clean energy by fostering a vibrant competitive market for off-grid energy products.

Lighting Global has been instrumental in kick-starting the off-grid lighting sector. We have had the opportunity to work with the Lighting Global team for the last ten years, starting when the industry was in its infancy, and they have always been willing to listen, provide support and take action. Ned Tozun, CEO dlight 

Our work with the off-grid lighting industry began in 2009 with the launch of the first Lighting Africa pilot in Kenya. We’ve since expanded across the African continent and into Asia and the Pacific under the Lighting Asia program, and are currently developing a program in the Americas as well.

*Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report 2020 finds that the share of the global population with access to electricity increased from 83 percent in 2010 to 90 percent in 2018, enabling more than a billion people to gain access during the period. The population still without access to electricity was 789 million in 2018, down from 1.2 billion in 2010.

** This emissions estimate is calculated according to GOGLA’s impact metrics (considering products of .5Wp+) and assuming a lifecycle of 3 years. The car equivalency is based on epa.gov.