This knowledge note is the first of three case studies that concerns scaling up access to electricity in Africa, Bangladesh, and Rwanda. Lighting Africa, a joint IFC and World Bank program launched in 2007, was the first private-sector-oriented effort to leverage new LED lighting technologies to build sustainable markets that provide safe, affordable, and modern off-grid lighting to communities in Africa that lack access to electricity. By 2030 the program aims to enable the private sector to reach 250 million people who now depend on fuel-based lighting. The case study for Africa is important, because the continent faces a huge rural electricity deficit. Global electrification in 2010 was estimated to be about 83 percent. The deficit of 17 percent encompasses some 1.2 billion people. Achieving universal access to modern energy services is one of the three complementary objectives of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative. Lighting Africa succeeded as a catalyst for the off-grid lighting market in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another success is apparent in the spectacular trajectory of solar lantern sales in Kenya. On the climate front, the program has avoided 274,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 35,000 cars off the road. Important lessons were learned during the first phase of the program. Some interventions were very successful; others could have been done differently. Going forward, the Lighting Africa program will support the geographic expansion of ongoing activities to enable market-based solutions for affordable, modern off-grid lighting. The following challenges will be addressed: solar home systems, consumer awareness, and impact evaluation.
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