Lighting Africa Inspires Expansion into Asia and the Pacific

Inspired by the impact that the joint IFC/World Bank Lighting Africa program has had on the lives of more than 10 million people in Africa, IFC is expanding its support for development of markets for solar lighting products into Asia and the Pacific regions.

A woman in India prepares an evening meal for her family lighting up her kitchen with a solar lantern © Lighting Asia - India
A woman in India prepares an evening meal for her family lighting up her kitchen with a solar lantern © Lighting Asia – India

IFC and the World Bank work through the Lighting Africa and Lighting Asia programs in support of the off-grid solar lighting industry to catalyze markets for affordable solar lighting products, and increase access to clean modern energy services to the vast under-served populations across the world.

After the launch of the Lighting Africa program in 2007, a similar program was launched in Asia, in 2012, with India as the first country program. Lighting Papua New Guinea was launched this May 2014, became the second country program.

Other country programs under development include one for Pakistan, to be launched soon, as well as one for Bangladesh and another for Indonesia, for which preliminary scoping is underway.

“Lighting Africa has provided an important foundation for the dynamic off-grid solar device industry. As the industry has matured, IFC’s role has evolved. The expansion of our country programs responds to the industry’s interest in pioneering new markets, providing an important stepping stone for first movers and opening the way for private sector delivery of modern energy services,” says Russell Sturm, IFC’s Global Head of Energy Access Advisory.

After the successful pilot in Kenya and Ghana, Lighting Africa is currently expanding its activities into ten other countries – Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

To support the fast-growing off-grid solar device markets globally, the Lighting Global platform was created to support the expanding regional programs. Lighting Global manages the product quality assurance work with manufacturers and distributors and works in partnership with the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), the industry representative, to build capacity that will support the long-term sustainability of the off-grid lighting sector.

The bulk of the world’s people without access to electricity live in Africa and Asia. They rely on polluting, expensive fuel energy such as kerosene for lack of affordable, sustainable alternatives.

By 2009, Africa had about 590 million people without access to electricity, and these numbers are projected to grow to about 700 million by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Asia had some about 809 million people without access to electricity in 2009, which is on course to fall to about 560 million by 2030.