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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid