News / Africa

A Better Way to Light Homes of People Off the Grid

A Better Way to Light Homes of People Off the Grid

x
A Better Way to Light Homes of People Off the Gridi
X
August 07, 2012 8:55 PM
Some 1.4 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The World Bank says 600 million of them live in Africa. Mariama Diallo looks at what is being done to provide affordable and reliable energy for the hundreds of millions who live off the electrical grid.

A Better Way to Light Homes of People Off the Grid

Mariama Diallo
Some 1.4 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The World Bank says 600 million of them live in Africa. Efforts are underway to provide affordable and reliable energy for the hundreds of millions who live off the electrical grid.
 
Whether you are on or off the grid, access to sufficient energy is a huge challenge for millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.  There is a reason for that, says Vijay Iyer, director of the World Bank's department of sustainable energy.

“There have not been enough investments in the energy sector over a long period of time," said Iyer. "It has not been a very high priority for governments to develop.”

And there's an important reason for energy sources in Africa to be affordable, says Patrick Avato, a global energy specialist with the International Finance Corporation - or IFC. He spoke to us via Skype.

“Households in Africa spend four or five to $10 to $15 a month on kerosene just for lighting," said Avato. "This is a very sizable amount considering that these are some of the poorest people on the planet.”

Three years ago, the IFC and The World Bank launched a program called "Lighting Africa" to provide modern energy to people without access to the grid.

"We saw an opportunity there to leverage the money that they are already spending for kerosene to bring in better technologies, mostly solar lighting," he said.

This woman in Kenya used kerosene lamps until four years ago when she tried solar.  

“This lamp is better than the one I had because it has more light," she said. "The flashlight is useful as well especially when I need to go outside at night, I don’t feel afraid."  

Many products are being developed by local and sometimes foreign entrepreneurs.  Whit Alexander, an American businessman, recently moved to Ghana and started a company called Burro.  

”We tried to create a model that would let the savings from rechargeable get passed along to people who are buying throwaway batteries in the villages," said Alexander. "So it’s a rechargeable battery service.”

His batteries can run just about anything - lamps, radios, cell phones.  Marketing to people off the grid is a new business opportunity and some companies are showing innovation. A good thing, says Vijay Iyer.

“Very remarkably, what has happen[ed] in countries like Ghana and Kenya, a lantern that used to cost $50, the price has come down to $20 to $23 because of competition and innovation," he said. "There is one that has come up with integrating both lighting and cell phone charging, attractive product right.”  

In the last three years, companies supported by “Lighting Africa” have provided better access to energy to more than 3 million people in Africa with a primary focus on Kenya and Ghana.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid