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Oct 05, 2012

Solar-powered LED lighting for 100 light centres in rural Africa

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Energy efficient lighting solutions provider Philips has launched a new initiative, which will see the installation of 100 light centres across rural Africa by 2015.

These are areas of about 1 000 m2, or the size of a small soccer pitch, which are lit using a new generation of highly efficient solar- powered light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. The idea is to create areas of light for rural communities, which live without electricity, thus effectively ‘extending the day’ and creating numerous opportunities for social and economic activities in the evening.

Philips made this announcement at the concluding leg of its third consecutive Cairo to Cape Town road show in 2012. The road show focused on topics relating to key challenges facing Africa and how new innovations can address mother and child care, energy efficient LED and solar lighting solutions.

The light centres, the first 40 of which are scheduled for installation in late 2012, will be focused on schools which are closely linked to villages and towns in off-grid or semi-grid areas, including parts of cities.

They will provide communal areas, which can be used for sport and many other activities, such as healthcare, education, social and commerce. They will extend the day by enabling communal life after dark, creating safe areas and supporting sanitation.

Philips has committed an investment of €1.2-million, spread over three years, to this project. Maintenance would be self-sustaining as local authorities or owners can rent out the light or advertising space and generate an income. An announcement on which sites and in which countries the light centres will be installed will be made this month.

Philips has already completed the installation of light centres in a number of African countries during its 2012 Cairo to Cape Town road show. The setup includes four 8 m poles fixed in the ground and hoisting four LED lights, which consume less power than a 60 W light bulb and provide around 20 lux of cold white light across an area of 1 000 m2.

Philips has been working on this development for a couple of years. In November 2009, the company enabled the world’s first soccer game to be played under solar-powered LED floodlighting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Local reactions have been extremely positive, says Philips Lighting Europe, Middle East and Africa president Garrett Forde.

“Philips’s aim is to create awareness for what is now possible. We are introducing the first generation of solar-powered LED lighting solutions which can provide high-quality, sustainable and reliable lighting for off-grid communities in Africa; indeed the world. It is now a question of how much the world is willing to invest,” he says.

The new light centre initiative also serves as a commitment to action by Philips in support of the United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

The UN Industrial Development Organisation and cochair of the high-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All director-general Kandeh Yumkella, says Philips is to be commended for this initiative.

“Sustainable Energy for All is about opportunity – opportunities to learn and live healthy and productive lives. “The private sector plays a key role in the implementation of this initiative, and Philips’s work will help us achieve our goal of sustainable energy for all by 2030,” he enthuses.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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