20 August 2012 – 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 1,000m2, or the size of a small soccer pitch, which are lit using a new generation of highly efficient solar powered 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 Cairo to Cape Town road show 2012, which has focused on key challenges facing Africa and how new innovations can deal with these: 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 (this can also include parts of cities). They will provide communal areas which can be used for sport and many other activities – healthcare, education, social, and commerce.

Philips has committed an investment of €1.2 million spread over three years to this project.  Maintenance would be self-sustaining as local authority/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 follow by October 2012.

Philips has already completed installing light centres in a number of African countries (Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa). The setup includes four 8.0 metre 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 1,000m2. 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,” Garrett Forde, president, Philips Lighting, Europe, Middle East and Africa, says. “Philips’ 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.”     

The new light centre initiative also serves as a commitment to action by Philips in support of the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  This initiative has one goal, sustainable energy for all, and three complimentary objectives, all to be achieved by 2030:

  1. Ensure universal access to modern energy services,
  2. Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and,
  3. Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Some 1.6 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity. At the same time for people living near the equator, darkness falls around 7 PM all year round, slowing down or completely stopping many vital tasks. Philips’ aim is to simply enhance life with light.