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Bensch, G., Peters, J., & Sievert, M. (2017). The lighting transition in rural Africa — From kerosene to battery-powered LED and the emerging disposal problem. Energy for Sustainable Development, 39, 13–20.
Abstract: People without electricity access, numbering today more than 500 million in rural Africa alone, have been using dim and sooty kerosene lamps and candles for their lighting purposes for decades. In the present paper, current lighting usage patterns are systematically assessed using detailed new survey data from seven countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. The data makes evident that a transition has taken place in recent years, both unnoticed by and without external support from governmental or non-governmental organizations: the rural population without electricity in Africa has replaced kerosene lights and candles by simple, yet more efficient and cleaner LED lamps powered by non-rechargeable batteries. Nevertheless, we also show that the discharged batteries are generally disposed of inappropriately in latrines or the nature. The toxic content of many dry-cell batteries and their accumulation at local litter hotspots may have harmful repercussions on health and the environment. We conclude by suggesting that rapid action is needed to, first, install an effective monitoring system on batteries that enter the continent and, second, put in place an appropriate waste management system.