LEDs Light up Tanzania’s Homes

Illumination, a company selling solar LED lamps, are on a mission to replace the paraffin lanterns in Tanzania’s 1.5 million homes

Illumination, a company selling solar LED lamps, are on a mission to replace the paraffin lanterns in Tanzania’s 1.5 million homes. If they reach their goal, it could reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by around 800,000 tonnes. It will also eradicate the huge number of burn injuries, and help prevent life-threatening diseases associated with fume inhalation, such as liver failure and chemical pneumonia.

There are currently over two billion people throughout the world who have no access to grid-connected electricity. Most of these rely on paraffin, also known as kerosene, as their principal source of light.

“Africa is predominantly pitch black at night,” says Shane Thatcher from Illumination, referring to a satellite image from space. “Europe by contrast is bathed in light.” By offering a cheap solar-powered light, Illumination’s customers can start saving some money he says, ‘then they can afford a better light, and so on…”

The scheme is funded by Standard Bank, one of Africa’s biggest lenders, through the purchase of carbon-offset credits. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism enables businesses that run clean energy projects in developing nations to earn one carbon credit for every tonne of carbon dioxide saved. By accruing and selling them onto the bank over a ten year period, Illumination can subsidise the price of their lights and make them affordable to households whose annual income can be as little as £100.

The project sits alongside other ventures being funded through Standard Bank Group’s purchase of carbon credits – such as a solar water heating project for low-cost housing in Cape Town – identifying
the organisation as a leader in Clean Development Mechanism initiatives across Africa.

“We’ve been working very hard during the past two years to bring the projects to fruition, and the LED light initiative is the first of several to get off the ground in 2011,” says Fenella Auoane from the London-based division of the bank.

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