The fourth International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Exhibition was held this past week at the Dubai World Trade Center, UAE, to examine methods of bringing quality, affordable clean lighting for impoverished people.
The conference was hosted by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), a non-profit formed by the World Bank that works in the private sector to encourage investments in developing countries.
Anita Marangoly George, World Bank Group senior director, stated: “Lack of energy limits job creation and access to health and education. Supporting universal access to reliable modern energy is a priority. Ending poverty will not be possible without adequate energy.”
In partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank and GOGLA have launched the Lighting Global initiative which aims to expand the international off-grid lighting market to reach people not connected by grid electricity.
The Lighting Global initiative has three regional programs – Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia and Lighting Pacific.
In Kenya, the off-grid lighting market has undergone dramatic changes; there has been a shift in lighting technologies and power sources between 2009 and 2014. Incandescent lighting, dry-cell batteries and cheap plastic torches have been replaced by LED lighting, solar power and quality-verified lighting systems with warranties.
In India, the consumer awareness campaign has reached over 250 villages and almost 15,000 people in rural Rajasthan. In partnership with local solar product distributor Frontier Markets, IFC educates rural households on the benefits of clean lighting and on marketing and sales.
Frontier Markets also recruits rural women, “Solar Sahelis,” who aid in educating households on clean energy and marketing. This opportunity for employment has reached 250 women thus far and there are plans to grow the network to 20,000 in the next 4 years.
Anjali Garg, the program manager of the Lighting Asia/India program, said: “We are working on a series of interventions with manufacturers and distributors of solar lighting products to widen access to quality solar lights for rural consumers.”
In 2009, Lighting Global began providing small solar lanterns and solar lighting systems. To date, over 12 million quality verified products have been made available to over 25 million people. The program is advancing into larger home system kits that will support items like fans, radios and TVs.
– Marie Helene Ngom