11 May 2008 – 16 companies and organisations have been chosen by the World Bank as winners of the Development Marketplace competition for their "innovative products or services tailored to Sub-Saharan Africa’s off-grid lighting market."

CFLA prize of US$200 000 will go to the winners to implement projects "that offer affordable, clean, and safe off-grid lighting and that improve access to lighting for people living without electricity across the region," the Bank said in a statement last week.

The winners were chosen from 52 competitors and innovation, measurability of outcomes, organisational and financial sustainability, growth potential and realism were criteria used for choosing the winners. Projects will be implemented across Africa, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania.

"The ideas and concepts presented during this competition were far beyond our expectations, and this level of innovation and creativity is exactly what Africa needs. We are looking forward to seeing the winners implement their projects," said Anil Cabraal, World Bank Lead Energy Specialist.

Among the winning projects is one that will use cassava waste to produce biogas for lighting for more than 2 000 rural homes. Other winners include an energy efficient solar cell for light emitting diodes which can be used to charge mobile phones and as a source of energy for a radio.

"The people’s choice award went to a project that aims to use the Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies, a network of solar technicians in Tanzania, and reasonably priced solar systems to reach remote areas," the statement reported.

"This has been one the most fruitful Development Marketplace competitions. All of the finalists were able to meet with businesses and NGOs that are relevant to their day-to-day activities. This will help broaden their reach and impact," IFC manager for the Sustainable Business Innovator, Monika Weber-Fahr said.

The winners were announced during the Lighting Africa 2008 conference in Ghana, part of the World Bank’s Lighting Africa programme which aims to mobilize off grid lighting to more than 250 million people across sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.