The private arm of the World Bank Group is partnering with the Italian and U.S. governments to help bring off-grid affordable lighting to rural communities in India.
The International Finance Corp. launched June 4 the “Catalyzing markets for off-grid lighting (Lighting Asia/India)” program. Focusing initially on India, the program aims to bridge the gap between the millions of Indians with no access to electricity and Indian and global manufacturers of off-grid lighting products.
The program will provide private sector support through market assessments, feasibility studies and training, as well as advice on the entire value chain, including access to finance for both small and midsize enterprises and end consumers.
The program also plans to draw several practices from IFC’s “Lighting Africa” model, including developing a quality assurance testing framework. This will help reduce the risk of marketing low-quality products.
The U.S. Department of State will be co-funding the program, while the U.S. Department of Energy will provide technical assistance. It is not yet clear, however, what kind of assistance the Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea will bring into the program.
The program, which will run for three years in India, presents huge potential in providing socio-economic as well as health benefits to some 2 million people in India. Children could study longer hours and businesses could generate more income with available electricity. In addition, it will cut the need for many Indians to resort to “hazardous, fuel-based lighting.”
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