Making Power Personal: Sustainably Lighting Homes in Developing Countries

April 19, 2018 | Author: | Posted in Business

Over a billion people worldwide have little to no access to electricity in their community. About 620 million of those billion are located in Africa. Over the last 30 years, billions of dollars have been spent by domestic and international governments to create a power grid in Africa to connect all communities. However, the intention behind the original concept has not panned out as originally conceived. The idea that power grids must exist to provide industrialization and development has proven to be unsustainable. 21 billion dollars are spent every year to maintain a sub-Saharan system that still does not supply sufficient resources for a steady path of development. To achieve true development, industrialization is key, but the ultimate goal is giving power to homes.

Most African homes rely upon kerosene lamps for light in dark hours. Kerosene is extremely dangerous and does not provide near the same light quality as LEDs or incandescent bulbs. The World Bank has stated that breathing kerosene fumes is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Subsequently, almost two-thirds of females who develop lung cancer in developing countries are non-smokers. Kerosene fires are a common occurrence, hard to prevent and still happen despite extreme caution.  Not only used for lighting houses at night, lamps are also used for reading, studying, and household activities. The solar power industry has created many inexpensive alternatives to kerosene lamps, like solar lanterns, that are safer, cost-effective, and long-term.

Communities worldwide are suffering from an insufficient power industry. Power-grids are the acclaimed resource for community, business, and home electricity. However, the costs to build and maintain these power-grids in developing countries and rural communities are astronomical, requiring billions of dollars every year to remain operational with not enough results. Rural and developing communities benefit from basic power resources, such as lights and multifunction power systems. Solar power offers the same benefits and more advantages than power grids, now less-expensive than ever, incredibly reliable, and significantly better for the environment. Solar powered lights alone can make a dent in significant world issues other than electricity.

Developing communities that are off the power grid but use solar power benefit from economic, academic, and social empowerment. Shown through a survey from Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the research revealed that the use of solar powered lanterns had several benefits for families and communities alike. 90% of parents in a Tanzanian rural community reported that their children had better grades and improved academically with extra hours of light for studying. Instead of having to read and study using poor light from kerosene lamps, LED and incandescent lamps provided the best setting. Like their children, working adults reported increased productivity after-sunset each evening. In total, solar powered lights gave each person 27 days of increased productivity in a single year.

Other economic benefits included financial stability. Households that were no longer spending money on kerosene or wood fuel were able to pay for food, water, educational supplies, household goods, and more. As previously mentioned with increased productivity, many reported being able to continue work by the light of solar lanterns on their personal business or work past sunset, providing additional income. Non-governmental organizations and for-profit companies that help communities develop economically stated that the solar industry has created thousands of jobs locally, from sales to installation and maintenance.

In accordance with the economic situation in many of these communities, solar power lights and other products are often paid through payment plans over time. Companies like d.light ensure that every product is warranted, making sure that the local dealer can repair or replace each lamp if there is an issue. Solar lights never run out of an energy source, empowering households to have long-term sustainable power without the issues of power-grids or community development. Efficient lighting has become incredibly inexpensive in the last decade and is expected to continue to develop sustainable, economical, and durable solutions to power poverty.

About d.light

d.light develops solar power lanterns and other solar products for off-grid people who lack access to reliable energy. This for-profit, social impact enterprise’s solutions have helped more than 75 million people in over 60 countries worldwide.

To explore products and learn about the solar market, visit

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