Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bringing Clean Light to Poor Nations and Moving Beyond Charity

The poorest people on the planet together spent almost $40 billion last year on kerosene and other rudimentary and dangerous fuel-based lighting. Scientists say fuel-burning lanterns release 190 million tons of carbon dioxide each year: about the equivalent of 30 million cars. Now leaders in the field of solar portable lighting believe they can push kerosene lamps out of markets in much of the developing world and make a profit while they're at it. Avato manages a 3-year-old program called Lighting Africa, based in Kenya, that tries to help the private sector provide clean and affordable lighting on the electricity-starved continent. The organization -- like the Lumina Project, which is based out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory -- is part of a small but growing field of market-based initiatives targeting what economists call the "bottom of the pyramid" consumers. More>