Product Quality Assurance for Off-Grid Lighting in Africa

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Although the emergence of markets for high efficiency off-grid lighting technologies holds promise, realizing the potential of this opportunity on a long-term, sustainable basis requires careful attention to issues of product quality, consumer protection, and the potential for significant 'market spoiling', in anticipation of increases of sales of low cost, low performance off-grid lighting products. The goal of the Lighting Africa quality assurance workshop was to articulate strategies to mitigate the dangers of market spoiling and to explore ways to protect consumers from misleading advertising for sales of inferior, off-grid lighting products in the context of Lighting Africa's overarching objective ... continued below

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Bank, World; Mills, Evan & Mills, Evan July 13, 2008.

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Description

Although the emergence of markets for high efficiency off-grid lighting technologies holds promise, realizing the potential of this opportunity on a long-term, sustainable basis requires careful attention to issues of product quality, consumer protection, and the potential for significant 'market spoiling', in anticipation of increases of sales of low cost, low performance off-grid lighting products. The goal of the Lighting Africa quality assurance workshop was to articulate strategies to mitigate the dangers of market spoiling and to explore ways to protect consumers from misleading advertising for sales of inferior, off-grid lighting products in the context of Lighting Africa's overarching objective to support the industry in developing a robust off-grid lighting market in Africa. The workshop resulted in the identification of two strategic approaches for meeting Lighting Africa quality assurance programmatic needs. The first strategy is intended to meet a short-term programmatic need for quality associated with requests for lighting products by bulk procurement agents, such as in a World Bank-financed project. The development of procurement specifications and test procedures that could be used in a quality/usability screening method in order to provide guidance for forthcoming large volume purchases emerged as the best solution to meet this need. Such approaches are used in World Bank-financed solar home systems (SHSs) projects in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China, among others. However, unlike the SHSs which have multiple balance-of-system (BOS) components warranting the need for an array of specifications for individual components, stand alone lighting systems require specifications that are amenable to individual light points. To test this approach, Lighting Africa elected to use the technical specifications issued by the Photovoltaic Global Approval Program for solar lanterns that use CFL bulbs (PVRS11A) as the basis of qualifying such products. A contract has been competitively awarded to the Global Approval Program for Photovoltaics (PV GAP) under the Lighting Africa Program to select and test ten solar lantern product models. Lantern selection will be determined based on a number of criteria, among them, the ability to provide a daily duty cycle of at least 3 hours of light, the number of days of autonomy of battery, the volume of sales (especially in Africa), and whether or not the manufacturing facility is ISO 9000 certified. Those that are confirmed as meeting the specifications may be eligible to receive a PVGAP quality seal. The work is being carried out in partnership with the Photovoltaic and Wind Quality Test Center in Beijing, China and TUV Rhineland in Koeln, Germany. As off-grid LED-based stand-alone lighting products is in a nascent stage of development compared to CFL-based lanterns, Lighting Africa will support the development of a 'Quality Screening' approach to selecting LED lighting, in order not to delay consumers benefiting from such advances. The screening methodology could be used by procurement agencies to qualify LED lighting products for bulk or programmatic procurements. The main elements of this work comprises of developing a procurement specification and test procedure for undertaking a 'quick' quality/usability screening to be used for procuring LED lights and to test up to 30 LED-based lights to screen products that meet the requirement. The second strategy is intended to meet a longer-term need associated with creating a self-sustaining product quality assurance program that will effectively protect the African consumer, prevent significant market spoiling, adapt with expected technological advancements over the long-term--in other words, give consumers the ability to detect quality products and the information needed to find products that meet their specific needs from among the myriad of lighting products that become available commercially. Workshop discussions and the discussions evolving from the workshop led the Lighting Africa team to opt for an approach similar to that of the 'Fair Trade' model, involving the creation of a set of voluntary criteria which companies can elect to subscribe to in order to receive a product evaluation/certification. This solution was proposed as it has the widest capacity to incorporate the largest number of recommendations from the workshop sessions. This code of conduct will be made available for companies to comment on later in 2008. These workshop proceedings provide an overview of workshop discussions and a summary of the key points identified around various workshop topic areas, contributing to the two strategy approach Lighting Africa will take as it moves forward with developing its quality assurance program.

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37

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  • Product Quality Assurance for Off-Grid Lighting in Africa, Arlie, VA, Oct. 14-16, 2007

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  • Report No.: LBNL-428E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 934728
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc899354

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  • July 13, 2008

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Jan. 4, 2017, 5:45 p.m.

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Bank, World; Mills, Evan & Mills, Evan. Product Quality Assurance for Off-Grid Lighting in Africa, article, July 13, 2008; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc899354/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.