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World Bank Group Launches New Initiative to Light Africa

Published 09-05-07

Submitted by International Finance Corporation

JOHANNESBURG - September 5, 2007 - The World Bank Group today launches an initiative to provide modern lighting to the 250 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa who have no access to electricity. Jointly managed by the World Bank and IFC, Lighting Africa aims to develop market conditions for the supply and distribution of new, nonfossil fuel lighting products, such as fluorescent light bulbs and light emitting diodes, in rural and urban areas of the region that are not connected to the electricity grid.

The "energy poor" in Africa spend about $17 billion a year on fuel-based lighting sources, such as kerosene lamps, that are costly, inefficient, and provide poor quality light while polluting and posing fire hazards. For these consumers, lighting is often the most expensive item among their energy uses, typically accounting for 10 to 15 percent of total household income. Hence there is a potentially huge market for modern lighting products that are safe and reliable, that provide higher-quality light, and that are cost-competitive with fuel-based lamps, and powered by renewable energy or mechanical sources.

Lighting Africa, which is supported by a number of donors, including seed money from the Global Environment Facility, seeks to attract the international lighting industry, as well as local suppliers and service providers, to this market.

Lars Thunell, IFC Executive Vice President and CEO, said, "In partnership with the private sector, IFC will help develop sustainable business models to supply good quality lighting to the poorest of the poor in Africa. Our goal is to give families and small business owners clean, modern, and affordable alternatives to fossil fuel lamps."

S. Vijay Iyer, World Bank Energy Sector Manager for Africa, said, "Modern lighting will mean improved air quality and safety for millions of people in Africa. It will mean longer reading hours for students and longer business hours for small shops. Lighting Africa will directly contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. It is a cornerstone of the World Bank's Clean Energy and Development Investment Framework and the Africa Energy Access Scale-up Plan."

In Johannesburg
Daniel Musiitwa
International Finance Corporation
Phone: + 2711 731 3175
Email: dmusiitwa@ifc.org

In Nairobi
Peter Warutere
The World Bank
Phone: +254 20 3226 444
Email: pwarutere@worldbank.org

In Washington, D.C.
Lucie Giraud
International Finance Corporation
Phone: +1 202 458 4662
Email: lgiraud@ifc.org

Kristyn Schrader
The World Bank (Sustainable Development)
Phone: +1 202 458 2736
Email: kschrader@worldbank.org

Chris Walsh
The World Bank (Africa Region)
Phone: +1 202 473 4594
Email: Cwalsh@worldbank.org

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International Finance Corporation

International Finance Corporation

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral provider of financing for private enterprise in developing countries. IFC finances private sector investments, mobilizes capital in international financial markets, facilitates trade, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to businesses and governments. From its founding in 1956 through FY06, IFC has committed more than $56 billion of its own funds for private sector investments in the developing world and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. With the support of funding from donors, it has also provided more than $1 billion in technical assistance and advisory services.

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