Sustainable urban infrastructure for all: lessons on solar-powered street lights from Kampala and Jinja, Uganda

This paper offers lessons from the cities of Kampala and Jinja in Uganda, where solar street lighting has proven cheaper to build and operate than conventional street lights. It has also generated a range of economic and social benefits, including lower crime rates, better road safety, a more vibrant night-time economy and higher property values. Tens of thousands of working hours a day – equivalent to 14,000 full-time jobs nationwide – could be added to the economy by extending trading beyond daylight hours. Based on this case study, installing and maintaining solar-powered LED street lights across sub-Saharan Africa rather than conventional grid-based options could reduce upfront installation costs by at least 25 percent, electricity consumption from street lighting by 40 percent and maintenance costs of new roads by up to 60 percent. Lighting new roads in sub-Saharan Africa with solar would be an opportunity to generate between 96 and 160 GW of distributed renewable energy across the sub-continent, more than doubling sub-Saharan Africa’s current energy generation capacity of 92 GW.