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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Self-reported Impacts of LED Lighting Technology Compared to Fuel-based Lighting on Night Market Business Prosperity in Kenya

  • Author(s): Johnstone, Peter
  • et al.

The notion of "productive use" is often invoked in discussions about whether new technologies improve productivity or otherwise enhance commerce in developing-country contexts. It an elusive concept,especially when quantitative measures are sought. Improved and more energy efficient illumination systems for off-grid application--the focus of the Lumina Project--provide a case in which a significant productivity benefit can be imagined, given the importance of light to the successful performance of many tasks, and the very low quality of baseline illumination provided by flame-based source. This Research Note summarizes self-reported quantitative and qualitative impacts of switching to LED lighting technology on the prosperity of night-market business owners and operators. The information was gathered in the context of our 2008 market testing field work in Kenya?s Rift Valley Province, which was performed in the towns of Maai Mahiu and Karagita by Arne Jacobson, Kristen Radecsky, Peter Johnstone, Maina Mumbi, and others. Maai Mahiu is a crossroads town; provision of services to travelers and freight carriers is a primary income source for the residents. In contrast, the primary income for Karagita's residents is from work in the large, factory style flower farms on the eastern shores of Lake Naivasha that specialize in producing cut flowers for export to the European market. According to residents, both towns had populations of 6,000 to 8,000 people in June 2008. We focused on quantifying the economics of fuel-based and LED lighting technology in the context of business use by night market vendors and shop keepers. Our research activities with the business owners and operators included baseline measurement of their fuel-based lighting use, an initial survey, offering for sale data logger equipped rechargeable LED lamps, monitoring the adoption of the LED lamps, and a follow-up survey.

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