Press Releases

    For information only - not an official document

    19 December 2013

    Re-issued as received

    UNIDO and Philips to jointly research social and economic impact of solar powered LED area lighting in off-grid communities in Africa

    VIENNA, 19 December 2013 (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) - The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Royal Philips will jointly study effects of the social and economic impact of a new generation of solar powered LED area lighting solution being installed in off-grid communities in Cabo Verde (off the coast of Western Africa).

    An agreement on this was signed in Vienna today by LI Yong, the Director General of UNIDO, and Harry Verhaar, Global Head - Public and Government Affairs, Philips Lighting. The study will help better understand the effects of evening time lighting on aspects of rural community life such as safety, education, productivity and economic development.

    Access to sustainable sources of reliable and affordable lighting has a profound impact on multiple aspects of human development and relates not only to physical infrastructure (e.g. electricity grids), but also to energy affordability, reliability and commercial viability.

    Under the agreement, innovative Philips solar-LED powered area lighting will be installed across the Cabo Verde Islands. Applications will cover both economic and social activities; the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) will partner with UNIDO & Philips in the roll-out of this project.  Based on the successful implementation of the project and findings from the same, the partners plan to expand to other countries on the continent.     

    This partnership between UNIDO and Philips Lighting will be a continuation of Philips' "Community Light Centre's" initiative in Africa and will contribute to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability.

    "Philips is looking to gain insights into the needs of rural communities and to develop initiatives towards making lighting more accessible and affordable," said Harry Verhaar. "Today, an estimated 560 million Africans live without electricity. Lack of power is holding entire regions back socially and economically. Philips believes that access to effective, energy efficient and sustainable solar lighting has the potential to strengthen Africa's economic, social, educational and cultural activities in a life-enhancing way."

    Director General Li added, "Through this integrated development approach, UNIDO is looking at helping developing countries in Africa expand access to reliable and modern sources of lighting in order to reduce poverty and to improve the health of  citizens, while at the same time promoting sustainable economic growth and mitigating climate change."

    Philips is currently installing more than a hundred "Community Light Centres" across Africa. The centres are areas of approximately 1000m2 (or equivalent) and are lit using a new generation of energy efficient solar powered LED lighting. The concept of the "Light Centre" is to create areas of light for rural communities which live without electricity, thus effectively using the power of the sun to "extend the day", creating numerous opportunities for social, economic and other activities in the evening.

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    For further information, please contact:

    Radhika Choksey
    Philips Group Communications - Africa
    Mobile: +31 62525 9000
    E-mail: radhika.choksey[at]


    Mikhail Evstafyev
    UNIDO Advocacy and External Relations Group Coordinator
    Telephone: (+43-1) -26026-5021
    Mobile: (+43-699) -1459-7329
    Email: M. Evstafyev[at]