Press Releases

World Bank and IFC Reward 16 Companies for Innovative Lighting Projects for Africa

Lucie Giraud
Phone: +1 (202) 458-4662        
Cell phone Ghana:
+233 27 385 2768 (May 2-9)

Katia Theriault  
Phone: +1 (202) 458-4662        
Cell phone Ghana: +233 27 385 2769 (May 2-9)

Chris Walsh
Africa Energy Unit
The World Bank
Phone: +1 (202) 473-4594        

Roger Morier
Sustainable Development Vice Presidency
The World Bank
Phone: +1 (202) 473-5675

Accra, Ghana, May 8, 2008—The World Bank Group has selected 16 companies and organizations as winners of the Development Marketplace competition for their innovative products or services tailored to Sub-Saharan Africa’s off-grid lighting market. The winners will receive up to $200,000 to implement projects that offer affordable, clean, and safe off-grid lighting and that improve access to lighting for people living without electricity across the region.

The winners were selected from among 52 competitors, and their projects were judged using five criteria: innovation, measurability of outcomes, organizational and financial sustainability, growth potential, and realism. They will use the funds to implement their projects in several African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

“The ideas and concepts presented during this competition were far beyond our expectations, and this level of innovation and creativity is exactly what Africa needs. We are looking forward to seeing the winners implement their projects,” said Anil Cabraal, World Bank Lead Energy Specialist.

One of the winning projects will use cassava waste to produce biogas for lighting about 2,250 rural homes. Another project introduced a revolutionary type of energy efficient solar cell product for light emitting diodes that can also be used as a mobile phone and energy charger and a source of energy for radio. The people’s choice award went to a project that aims to use the Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies, a network of solar technicians in Tanzania, and reasonably priced solar systems to reach remote areas.

“This has been one the most fruitful Development Marketplace competitions. All of the finalists were able to meet with businesses and NGOs that are relevant to their day-to-day activities. This will help broaden their reach and impact,” said Monika Weber-Fahr, IFC Manager for the Sustainable Business Innovator.

The competition took place during Lighting Africa 2008, the first global business conference for off-grid lighting in Africa, held in Accra, Ghana, from May 6 to 8, 2008. The conference is part of the World Bank Group’s Lighting Africa program, which aims to mobilize the private sector to provide modern off-grid lighting to more than 250 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2030.

Broadcast Quality Video
A three-minute video illustrating the lighting challenge in Africa is available for download. Please contact Mehreen Arshad Sheikh at +1 (202) 458-7336 or

Photos are available on the Lighting Africa Web site under “media kit” at:

Contact information for the winners is available upon request.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries.

For more information, visit, the World Bank at, or the Lighting Africa initiative at

About the World Bank’s Development Marketplace
Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program that funds innovative, small-scale development projects. These projects not only deliver results, but also have the potential to be expanded or replicated elsewhere. Since its inception in 1998, the program has awarded over $50 million to roughly 1,000 projects through global, regional, and country-level marketplaces. For more information, visit