Press Releases

World Bank Group to Reward Lighting Africa Innovations: Development Marketplace Grant Competition Reveals Vast Interest in Improving Access to Modern Lighting

Lucie Giraud

Phone:  +1 202 458 4662


Katia Theriault


Phone:  +1 202 458 4662


Kristyn Schrader

Sustainable Development  Vice Presidency

The World Bank

Phone: +1 202 458-2736


Chris Walsh

Africa Energy Unit

The World Bank

Phone: +1 202 473-4594


Washington, D.C, January 31, 2008 –The World Bank Group officially announced today the selection of 54 finalists to its grant competition on innovative solutions for off-grid lighting products and services in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Development Marketplace Grant Competition is part of the Lighting Africa program, which aims to mobilize the private sector to provide modern off-grid lighting to 250 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. The 54 finalists will present their ideas to a panel of jurors during Lighting Africa 2008, the first global business conference for off-grid lighting in Africa, to be held in Accra, Ghana, on May 5-8, 2008. The panel will select 10 to 20 winners, who will receive up to $200,000 in seed funding to develop and implement their ideas.

The Development Marketplace team received more than 400 proposals from a number of organizations, including private businesses, nongovernmental organizations, universities, government entities, and individuals. The popularity of the competition highlights the vast potential for the market and is the latest indication of the magnitude of global entrepreneurial interest in tackling energy issues and developing solutions for off-grid lighting in Sub-Saharan Africa.  

Examples of finalists’ projects include: the distribution of affordable solar lamps through used clothing networks; a landfill gas system and plant based on animal waste; the creation of supply chains and distribution networks for solar energy systems and light-emitting diodes; and solar electric street lighting. The projects could be implemented in as many as 23 countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

As part of the conference, Development Marketplace contenders will have the opportunity to showcase their projects.  About 300 participants are expected, from the lighting industry, international financial institutions, the private sector, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. Participants will have opportunities to share market and industry knowledge; establish strategic business partnerships; and gain the skills, tools, and capacity to tap into this evolving market area. Registration is ongoing until May 2008 at

Anil Cabraal, World Bank Lead Energy Specialist, said, “The competition can assist entrepreneurs in moving from innovation to impact.  It provides a platform for the World Bank Group to team up with the global lighting industry and local entrepreneurs to offer cheaper, cleaner, more consumer-friendly products and services into the budding market for off-grid lighting in Africa.”  

Mohamedrafik A. Parpia, a finalist from Zara Solar Limited of Tanzania, said,“Off-grid lighting is the only viable option in providing lighting needs to the 98 percent of Tanzanians who have no grid electricity now and may not have it for many years to come.”

Dr. Dickson E. Ozokwelu of Besteck Energy Limited, another finalist, stated, “The best way to alleviate poverty and empower the people in these rural areas is through the deployment of renewable power technologies.”  

Lead sponsors of the Development Marketplace Grant Competition 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 Netherlands, Norway and Luxembourg; and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership.

For more information about Lighting Africa, the Lighting Africa 2008 conference, and the Development Marketplace Grant Competition, visit:
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

About Development Marketplace
The World Bank’s 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

About the World Bank

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world, with the mission of global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards. It is not a bank in the common sense. It is made up of two unique development institutions owned by 185 member countries — the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).  Each institution plays a different but supportive role in this mission. The IBRD focuses on middle income and creditworthy poor countries, while IDA focuses on the poorest countries in the world. Together, they provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit, and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications, and many other purposes.  By doing so, the World Bank concentrates on building the climate for investment, jobs and sustainable growth, so that economies will grow, and investing in and empowering poor people to participate in development.   For more information, please visit

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