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Solar lanterns in Niger Delta communities: experiences in building a sustainable distribution model

The Niger Delta region fuels Nigeria’s economy, accounting for 95 per cent of Nigeria’s export earnings and over 80 per cent of the federal government’s revenue. Yet it remains one of the poorest parts of the country. Its considerable potential for socio-economic
development has been hampered by a lack of access to modern energy services, despite rich energy resources. Renewable energy has become a competitive option for improving access to energy.

The European Union-funded Sungas project aimed to develop community-based energy solutions in the Niger Delta using renewable energy sources. As part of this project, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) piloted the use of solar-powered portable
lighting in four Niger Delta communities, using the ‘energy delivery model’ approach. It aimed to catalyse market development by demonstrating and selling small solar lanterns as a commercial and sustainable business model.

This paper reviews and evaluates the impact of SDN’s solar lantern distribution model at a community level. It identifies what SDN has learnt through distributing solar lanterns in four rural and urban communities in Rivers State, Nigeria, in order to critique the approach and consider how to implement the model more effectively, as well as analysing its potential for scaling up in the region.

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Stakeholder Democracy Network (2016). Solar lanterns in Niger Delta communities: experiences in building a sustainable distribution model. IIED, London.

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One in five people around the world – 1.3 billion people – lack electricity to light their homes or run their businesses, while wealthy countries consume vast amounts of electricity every day. IIED’s energy team works to promote access to sustainable energy for the poorest communities and a more equitable consumption of energy resources. Energy access is an area of great inequity. Access to sustainable modern energy services underpins health, education and livelihoods and increases resilience to climate change – yet millions of people have no access to electricity and use dangerous and unhealthy fuels for lighting and cooking.

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Improving people’s access to sustainable energy