Africa | March 9, 2017

Solar lamps reduce energy poverty, but not poverty overall

The team at



Solar lanterns are bringing electricity to some of the 1.2 billion people without reliable electric grids.

But small-scale solar lamps have not made a big dent on poverty itself.

A study of 1,000 rural households in Kenya found that the majority of households with solar lamps still use fuel-based energy sources as well, rather than replacing them. Reduced fuel costs save families one to three percent of their total cash expenditures — small but significant savings.

Solar lanterns provide other benefits such as better health through reduced indoor air pollution and better educational outcomes as children are able to spend more hours studying.

To meet Sustainable Development Goal №7 (ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), the researchers say, “Solar lights are probably the least expensive way to do so.”

Quality improvements are necessary: one-tenth of the lights are broken after seven months.

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Photo credit: UNDP