Kabul, Afghanistan, February 18, 2019—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, has launched a pioneering program to
supply small-scale solar power systems to homeowners across Afghanistan.
The initiative is designed to provide electricity to some of the nearly
20 million Afghans who are not connected to the national power grid.
The pilot program will see the introduction
of Afghanistan’s first pay-as-you-go home solar systems. The systems,
which include small solar arrays and batteries, allow Afghans to pay for
electricity through small monthly installments, key in a country that is
one of the poorest in Asia. The initiative is a collaboration between IFC’s
Lighting Afghanistan program, the Afghan
Wireless Communications Company
(AWCC), the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), and d.Light,
a supplier of home-based solar power systems.
“With help from our strategic partners,
our PAYG service—this gift of light—will provide thousands of Afghans
access to safe, clean and affordable electric lighting and power,” said
Amin Ramin, Managing Director of Afghan Wireless
In Afghanistan, nearly 60 percent of the population
– over 20 million people - is not connected to the national electric grid,
despite efforts by the government and its development partners to expand
the network. Initially, the new IFC-led project will help provide pay-as-you-go
solar power systems to homeowners in the provinces of Nangarhar and Kandahar.
The systems, manufactured by d.Light, have been quality
certified by IFC’s Lighting Global
program, an umbrella initiative that includes Lighting Afghanistan. After
this pilot phase, the systems will be offered across Afghanistan.
“In Afghanistan, difficult terrain, the
dispersed nature of rural communities, and a precarious security situation
make it extremely difficult to expand the national power grid,” said Marco
Indelicato, IFC Program Manager of Lighting Afghanistan. “Solar
home systems, however, can provide Afghans with a reliable, cost-effective
source of electricity, which is a crucial first step in fighting poverty
and creating economic opportunities.”
The pay-as-you-go model has helped drive
sales of solar home systems in many other countries. Over 800,000 households
globally were electrified by pay-as-you-go solar companies in the first
quarter of 2018 alone. The initiative is part of a wider effort by IFC
to help Afghanistan combat poverty, improve access to power and drive economic
About the Afghan Wireless Communications
AWCC is Afghanistan’s first wireless communications
company and the creator of the country’s wireless communications market.
AWCC is also leading the mobile payment market by providing financial services
to more than 5 million businesses and consumer clients located in all of
Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
Lighting Global is the World Bank Group’s
initiative to rapidly increase access to off-grid solar energy for the
one billion people living without grid electricity world-wide. We work
with manufacturers, distributors, governments, and other development partners
to build and grow the modern off-grid solar energy market.
Today, there are nearly one billion people
worldwide living without access to the power grid and modern energy services.
About half of these people reside in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Collectively,
they spend about $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. With programs in more than thirty
countries around the world, our work has helped nearly 40 million people
have their basic lighting needs met and introduced more than 26 million
quality verified products to market in the last decade. To learn more about
our efforts, visit www.lightingglobal.org.
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile
operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies
in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software
companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organizations
in adjacent industry sectors. GSMA also hosts the “Mobile for Development”
platform, a team which brings together mobile operator members, tech innovators,
the development community and governments to prove the power of mobile
in emerging markets. Through the Mobile for Development platform, GSMA
granted seed funds to AWCC and d.Light to launch the mobile-money enabled
lease-to-own solar home systems with the objective to drive mobile money
adoption and expand energy access in Afghanistan. For further information,
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank
Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private
sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide,
using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities
in the toughest areas of the world. In FY18, we delivered $23.3 billion
in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of
the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For
more information, visit