The International Finance Corporation (IFC) on Thursday launched the ‘Lighting Pakistan’ programme to help the government provide safe, affordable, high-quality lighting to more than a million Pakistanis.
The programme, supported by UKAID and Australia AID, comes under Lighting Global — a joint effort of IFC and the World Bank under the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative, and also a part of IFC’s wider strategy to reduce greenhouse emissions and boost clean energy projects.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has established a series of quality standards for modern, off-grid lighting products. Lighting Pakistan works directly with lighting manufacturers and distributors, supporting solar-powered products that meet these standards by connecting potential partners, including microfinance institutions, and investing in consumer education to raise awareness about solar technology.
The ‘Pakistan Off-Grid Lighting Consumer Perceptions’ study, released at the launch, underscores the power challenge facing Pakistan. Based on interviews with over 6,000 Pakistani households, the report finds that nearly 145m people are severely impacted by the country’s energy crisis. According to Lighting
Pakistan’s Programme Manager Liam Grealish said: “The report shows that many Pakistani households rely on an expensive and low-quality mix of battery powered torches, kerosene, and candles that do not meet their lighting needs and burns a hole in their pockets.”
The programme would help raise awareness amongst these households about alternatives, including quality solar-powered lighting products, he said.
Speaking at the launch, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said, “Controlling Pakistan’s energy crisis is the top priority of the government and IFC’s programme will ease the burden on the national grid and help millions of people access lighting.”
The study reveals that $2.2 billion is spent every year on off-grid lighting products by Pakistani households. “This is a very large sum of money. It means an average household spent Rs850 per month on traditional lighting sources,” he said.
Dar said that major initiatives now under way in terms of power generation, transmission system upgrades, LNG, diversified fuel-based projects as well as alternative and renewable energy projects would transform the landscape of the power sector within the next three years. This should add one to 1.5 percentage points to the country’s GDP growth rate, he remarked.
The finance minister explained that an investment of more than $1bn had been made alone in the wind energy sector in the last couple of years. Five wind power projects with a cumulative capacity of 255.4MW were operational at the moment and another eight wind power projects having a cumulative capacity of 429MW were under construction. Two bagasse based projects with a cumulative capacity of 52MW were also operational, he said.
Earlier, IFC Country Manager Nadeem Siddiqui said that ‘Lighting Pakistan’, which aims to reach 1.5m people, is part of IFC’s strategy of promoting inclusive electrification in Pakistan, and “is an important part of our broader approach of targeted interventions in the power sector”.