Press Releases

IFC and World Bank Mobilize Lighting Industry to Provide Off-Grid Lighting to Sub-Saharan Africa

In Washington, D.C.:
Lucie Giraud, IFC
Phone:  +1 202 458 4662
Cell phone Ghana: +233 27 385 2768 (May 2-9)

Katia Theriault, IFC
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: +1-2020473-5675

Washington, D.C., May 2, 2008 — More than 500 representatives of the lighting industry, governments, and nongovernmental organizations are meeting in Ghana, from May 6 to 8, 2008, for the Lighting Africa 2008 conference. The event, the first global business conference for off-grid lighting in Africa, is part of the World Bank Group’s Lighting Africa program. The goal is to mobilize the private sector to provide modern off-grid lighting – such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) - to more than 250 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.
The conference provides a forum for international and local lighting industry entrepreneurs to learn more about the emerging off-grid lighting market in Sub-Saharan Africa and innovations in the field, while also developing strategic business partnerships.

“Increasing access to affordable and clean lighting is essential to Africa’s development. Waiting for an expansion of the electricity grid is not an option, given today’s energy concerns. The region’s lighting needs are critical and require innovation and alternative business models,” said Anil Cabraal, World Bank Lead Energy Specialist.

Fuel prices are soaring in Africa and access to electricity remains limited to only 26 percent of the population. To help address the energy crisis and respond to consumer needs, the World Bank Group is mobilizing the global lighting industry and helping entrepreneurs innovate and develop off-grid non-fuel based lighting solutions, while reducing barriers that interfere with the private sector’s efforts to penetrate the market.

“We expect the Lighting Africa conference to expose some of the many business opportunities in the Sub-Saharan off-grid lighting market. By building a coalition between all parties in the industry, we hope to reduce hurdles and perceived uncertainties that accompany the development of a market as undiscovered as this one,” said Monika Weber-Fahr, IFC Manager of the Sustainability Business Innovator Group.
Conference highlights will include:

        A Development Marketplace grant competition for the most innovative off-grid lighting solutions and business models. Companies will compete for about 20 awards of up to $200,000 each.

        The unveiling of pilot market research in Ghana and Kenya that will provide critical market and consumer information to entrepreneurs and investors. Research is also being conducted in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia.

        A trade fair where more than 50 lighting businesses will exhibit their innovative products.

Lead sponsors include the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, the Global Environment Facility, and the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility. Other supporters include Good Energies Inc.; the governments of Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom; the European Commission; and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership.

Broadcast Quality Video

To obtain a three-minute broadcast video illustrating the lighting problems in Africa, please contact Mehreen Arshad Sheikh at +1 (202) 458-7336 or .


Photos illustrating the lighting problems in Africa and proposed alternatives by Lighting Africa are available on the Web site under “media kit” at .

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 should 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 IFC at , the World Bank at , and the Development Marketplace at .

About Lighting Africa

Lighting Africa is a World Bank Group program launched in September 2007 to catalyze better access to modern lighting services in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its goal is catalytic: to mobilize the private sector to reach 250 million energy-poor customers by 2030 with low-cost, reliable, affordable lighting services as part of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Lighting Africa seeks to achieve four objectives: improved low-cost lighting technology and product innovation; stronger private sector capacity for manufacturing, marketing, and distribution supply chains; better affordability; and lowering of transaction costs while mitigating risks. Lighting Africa aims to help offer better alternatives for consumers that spend $40 billion annually on costly, inefficient, poor-quality, polluting, fossil fuel-based lighting products, a category dominated by kerosene lanterns that typically account for 10 to 30 percent of household expenses in Sub-Saharan Africa. For more information, visit