Today, there are 840 million* people worldwide living without access to modern energy services. About half of these people reside in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Collectively, they spend about US$27 billion each year on lighting and mobile phone charging with kerosene, candles, battery torches or other fossil fuel-powered technologies. 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 840 million people living without electricity world-wide. Lighting Global – managed by IFC and the World Bank – 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 the Energy Sector Management Assistant Program (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 lighting products, and more than 51.6 million people have had their basic (Tier 1) lighting needs met. Nearly 40 million quality verified products have been sold since 2009. Since then, four million tons of green house gasses (GHG) have been avoided due to the use of quality verified products instead of kerosene. 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 Assurance: We created an international quality standard for affordable solar-powered devices and solar home systems, and we also advise manufacturers on the quality standards.
  • Market Intelligence: We provide market intelligence that lowers the cost and risk for first movers entering frontier markets.
  • Access to Finance: 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 on their quality standards.

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 2008 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 2019 finds that global electrification rate reached 89 percent in 2017 and that the number of people without electricity access dropped to around 840 million, compared to 1 billion in 2016 and 1.2 billion in 2010.