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World Bank Launches Lighting Initiative for Africa

Sep 9, 2007 - Planet Ark

The World Bank launched an plan on Wednesday to provide inexpensive, safe and cleaner lighting to 250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who lack access to electricity. The project is designed to replace costly and inefficient fuel-based lighting sources, such as kerosene lamps, that pose fire hazards and cause pollution.

The initiative, also being managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector lending arm, aims to supply cheap lighting to the region's "energy poor".

Some of the products to be distributed in the region include small battery- and solar-powered lighting systems that the IFC said would be affordable to the target market.

"The idea behind the initiative is that people will get useful light with little power input. We intend to match the product to the affordability of the market," said Russell Sturm, head of the IFC's sustainable energy team.

Decades of underinvestment in electricity networks and growing populations mean many people in the region have no access to electric power.

"It's an ambitious idea, it's an ambitous project but the logic behind it is quite easy to understand ... 500 million people in Africa are spending about US$17 billion on bad lighting," said Rachel Kyte, director of the Environmental and Social Development Department of the IFC.

Aside from donors, the World Bank hopes to attract companies to support the project.


Updated: 2003/07/28