Lighting Africa expands into Nigeria

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The World Bank has signalled its intent to connect more than 5 million people in Nigeria to electricity by 2017 in the next stage of its Lighting Africa program.

According to a statement released on the World Bank’s website, the scheme aims to work in partnership with local and global manufacturers, and will look to develop and build supply chains for off-grid lighting products.

Itotia Njagi, program manager for Lighting Africa, said, “Lighting Africa is helping to build a market to bring off-grid lighting and energy services across Africa by establishing quality standards, investing in consumer education, creating a favorable investment climate, and supporting innovative business models. As we foster these partnerships among all parties in the industry, various opportunities would be explored and our goal of inclusive electrification would be achieved in Nigeria.”

Formed by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, the Lighting Africa program aims to connect 250 million people with electricity by 2030. Current estimates put the number of people in Africa without electricity at 600 million, with this number predicted to rise by another 100 million in the next fifteen years. The Lighting Africa program was originally launched in 2007 with the stated goal of jump-starting the off-grid solar market on the continent. To date, its organisers claim to have helped more than 28.5 million people across Africa.

Samuel Dansette, Africa business and sales manager for Little Sun, said that it was important for international players like Lighting Africa to become involved in crucial markets such as Nigeria, given that off-grid solar on the continent is ‘clearly a fast-moving and fast-growing sector’.

He added, “Anyone doing the math in our industry knows that Nigeria has a huge untapped off-grid client base. However, this comes with big challenges in terms of security and ease to do business. With the Lighting Africa program coming to Nigeria, we hope to see more clarity about market entry potential: the Lighting Africa program usually give good insights into what off-grid clients want and how much they can pay for it, but also about how companies like ours should tailor their distribution and marketing strategy to a specific country. We also wish to see a growing momentum for the Pico PV industry in the country.”

The news comes at a booming time for solar across the continent, which is experiencing something akin to a gold rush for international and domestic solar investment, with thousands of companies vying for a place in the booming renewables economy. One such example comes from a year ago, when pv magazine reported on the closing of first-round funding for the African Renewable Energy Fund. That round of funding raised USD $100 million, with hopes from the fund for a doubling of the amount available for schemes sized between five and 50 MW within a year.

Nigeria is experiencing a sharp acceleration in its implementation of off-grid solar. In February, pv magazine reported that the state government of Lagos in Nigeria had begun a collaboration with the U.K.’s Department for International Funding and Development to bring off-grid solar to hundreds of schools and hospitals in the area.

The February announcement itself followed the machinations last year that produced a partnership between the European Investment Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the African Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Climate Investment Funds. Other developments have included the USD $5 billion deal between the Nigerian government and Skypower FAS for the development of 3 GW of solar PV over the next five years.