The new face of Senegal: a local perspective

Our international projects / Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

50,000. That’s how many off-grid public streetlights will be installed across Senegal by the end of 2021. This vast project — the largest ever undertaken in the solar lighting sector worldwide — is being delivered by Fonroche Lighting of France. It’s not just bringing eco-friendly lighting to people. It’s bringing life. Over 23,000 off-grid streetlights are already up and running in districts across the country, helping foster local development and bringing benefits for work, education, social and cultural activities and more.

This report, filmed in Senegal a few months ago, features first-hand testimonials and offers real insights into this beautiful country and the lives of men, women, children, students, stallholders and fishermen. They all say solar lighting is about much more than illumination. Click on play for a journey you won’t forget!

What local people are saying

Senegal’s economic development

Economic activity has been given a big boost. For stallholders, fishermen, tourist guides and others in business, Fonroche solar streetlights now mean they can work longer, allowing them to earn a better living. Here, the sun goes down at 6 pm all year round and people often didn’t feel safe to be out. Today, the new streetlights ensure the streets are brightly lit.

“Before, I only had a small light, so people couldn’t see me,” says a Dakar stallholder. “Selling a single sandwich was hard. Thanks to the streetlights, we can stay open until 11 pm and sell ten sandwiches or more! I work for my family. With what I sell, I can feed my four children.”

Education: improving equal opportunities

A country’s development also depends on providing schooling to everyone from the youngest age. School and university students across Senegal are now able to sit under the off-grid public streetlights and study after dark. As a result, inequalities in education access are being reduced and young people are achieving more. In terms of economic development, this opening up is having a big impact on regions far away from the capital.

“When there was a power outage, our children couldn’t study. Now, they can go outside to work under the streetlights. It’s made such a difference!”

A vast state programme for Senegal’s towns and cities

Valuable cost savings

Senegal’s local authorities have welcomed these sustainable solar streetlights just as enthusiastically, not least because they provide 365 nights of lighting a year, with no outages and no electricity bills. The cost of public lighting is much lower than conventional equipment, allowing the money saved to be spent on other areas, such as schools.

As we’ve said before, it’s cheaper to invest in PV lighting than grid-connected equipment, because the price of renewable energy is now lower than power from the grid, in what’s called ‘grid parity’. In fact, a solar solution is now 25% cheaper per mile of road than grid-tied streetlights.

Streetlighting means safer communities

Feeling safer comes across as the main benefit for local people. Solar streetlights are an important part of efforts to combat assaults, burglary and other crimes and security issues. People now feel confident to go out after dark, run their businesses and also take part in cultural and religious activities.

The contribution of these lighting solutions is seen in Senegal as a positive and virtuous cycle. People feel safer and as a result, the entire economy is being given a boost. Every night, Fonroche is providing light for 20,000 more people in Senegal!