Keeping Darkness At Bay In Africa – Kerosene to the LED

By Stephen Leahy

ACCRA, May 8 (IPS) – In many of Africa’s towns and villages, only smoky kerosene lamps keep the darkness at bay after sunset. However, kerosene is a dangerous and increasingly expensive source of light for Africans who do not have access to electricity — about three-quarters of those living on the continent, according to the World Bank.

Lighting industry entrepreneurs are hoping alternative devices such as solar-powered LED lights will replace the kerosene lamps.

“Africans spend more than 18 billion dollars a year purchasing kerosene,” said Russell Sturm, who heads up the sustainable energy team at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.

“And that estimate was done when oil was 35 dollars a barrel, so there is an enormous market for lighting,” he told IPS, adding that the prices of LED devices and solar panels had dropped dramatically over the past three years, and were now competitive with kerosene costs. The price of oil passed the 120 dollar per barrel mark for the first time earlier this week. Continue reading