The falling cost of LED lighting, batteries, and solar panels, together with innovative business plans, are allowing millions of households in Africa and elsewhere to switch from crude kerosene lamps to cleaner and safer electric lighting. For many, this offers a means to charge their mobile phones, which are becoming ubiquitous in Africa, instead of having to rent a charger.
Technology advances are opening up a huge new market for solar
power: the approximately 1.3 billion people around the world who don't
have access to grid electricity. Even though they are typically very
poor, these people have to pay far more for lighting than people in rich
countries because they use inefficient kerosene lamps. While in most
parts of the world solar power typically costs far more than electricity
from conventional power plants—especially when including battery
costs—for some people, solar power makes economic sense because it costs
half as much as lighting with kerosene.