The Lighting Africa project aims to develop a market for non-fossil fuel lighting products, such as fluorescent light bulbs and light emitting diodes, in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa that are not connected to the electricity grid.

About 250 million people in the region are forced to rely on fuel such as kerosene to light lamps which provide poor quality light and create pollution.

As part of the initiative, jointly managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a grant competition has been launched which will reward project ideas to provide clean off-grid lighting for the region.

Between ten and 20 winners will receive grants of up to $200,000 in the competition, which is sponsored by a number of organisations, including the Global Environment Facility.

Subramanium Vijay Iyer, World Bank’s energy sector manager for Africa, said the project was a cornerstone of the organisation’s environmental policy.

He added: “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.”

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.”

The World Bank Group will also begin market research into lighting needs in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia, and create a web portal for manufacturers, distributors and marketers across the world to conduct business.

Entrants will have until the end of this month to submit their proposals.

Kate Martin

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