Clean lighting and its impact on children

According to a recent study, the use of solar-based lighting through SunnyMoney, instead of kerosene lamps, proves beneficial to children, dealers and the broader community. The World Bank reports that Africa has the lowest electrification rate of all global regions at only 26% of households (and an even lower rate of 14.2% in rural sub-Saharan Africa).Electrification is failing to keep up with the region’s population growth. It is estimated that Africa’s non-electrified population will grow from 110 to 120 million households (630 million people) by 2015. Additionally, 20 million households are considered underelectrified, which means that they have intermittent and low-quality electric grid supply.
Off-grid and under-electrified households use alternate sources of lighting such as kerosene lamps, candles, and/or disposable batteries in flashlights or torches. Across Africa, an estimated 53% of off-grid households use kerosenebased lighting and spend $4.4 billion a year on the fuel. Using poor quality lighting from kerosene lamps increases the risk of household fires, personal injuries such as burns and kerosene poisoning and, in the long term, the risk of chronic respiratory diseases due to harmful emissions.
Additionally, kerosene emits approximately 2.5kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) per litre; and it is estimated that Africa’s base of the pyramid (BoP) segments’ use of kerosene-based lighting accounts for 20 million tons of CO2 emission per year, further exacerbating the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Globally, the BoP socio-economic segment is equivalent to about 4 billion people who primarily live and operate micro-enterprises in the informal economy and generally have an annual per capita income of less than $3,000 in purchasing power parity. SunnyMoney, a market-based initiative of SolarAid, is a non-profit organisation that seeks to “eradicate kerosene lamps from Africa by 2020”. The initiative began in 2009 as “a business with a social goal”, a selfsustaining, market-based enterprise to
support SolarAid’s mission.
SunnyMoney, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, sells pico (or micro) solar products (made by multiple manufacturers including India-based GreenLight Planet, US-based d.light, and Australia-based BareFoot Power) to residents of BoP communities with
limited access to electricity in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia.
SunnyMoney has had the greatest impacts on its customers’ children. The impacts on children in the 0-5 age group differ from those in the 6-8 age group. Impacts on the younger children are mostly related to changes in their health as a result of improvements in home air quality as well as potential changes to their nutrition due to their parents’ decreased spending on kerosene and medical bills. The older children appear to experience additional impacts resulting from an added three to four hours of clean, good quality light that can enhance their studies.
In addition to its customers’ children, SunnyMoney positively impacts its dealers’ children and those in the broader community. The study revealed that the dealers’ children benefit from the supplemental income their parents can contribute toward their immediate needs like food, clothing, books, school uniforms, and other necessities.
SunnyMoney also impacts the children of the broader community by improving the local ambient air quality through the reduction of kerosene use (reduction in released toxic fumes and CO2).
• The William Davidson Institute with support from the Bernard Van Leer Foundation wrote this case study: ‘Access to Clean Lighting and Its Impact on Children: An Exploration of SolarAid’s SunnyMoney’