Lighting Africa’s Consumer Education Campaign is in Full Swing

It takes more than good products to make consumers move to clean energy.

Lighting Africa, a joint IFC and World Bank program, has launched an education campaign to encourage rural populations in Kenya to adopt solar lighting. In Kenya, about 80 % of the population is off-grid, or without access to electricity. Most of these populations are in rural areas, and rely on kerosene, candles or wick sticks. The campaign, dubbed Songa Mble na Solar (Stay ahead with solar), targets 9 million people, both households and small businesses in rural Kenya. It shows how by switching from fuel- based lighting to modern, solar lighting rural populations could improve their health, save money (households typically spend about 10 % of their income on kerosene) and benefit from better illumination and more productive time in their homes, schools and businesses.

Lighting Africa has already organized 66 forums in villages and small rural towns to encourage rural populations to change the way they light their homes and businesses. Each forum attracts 40 to 50 people and each of these is expected to spread the information on solar portable lights to another five to ten people. Actors perform drama skits that explain the benefits of solar lighting and trainers help consumer distinguish between inferior and high-quality lamps.

In conjunction with the forums, the campaign is also staging road shows in market towns to generate consumers interests in solar portable lights that have passed Lighting Africas strict quality tests. The road shows attract crowds of 300-500 people every evening, and feature product demonstrations, fun quizzes, dance shows, and a chance to try the solar lights.