As so many variable impact educational outcomes, the study explored financial poverty as a limiting factor for
educational opportunity for many reasons. For example, the research shows that many children have extremely
busy days, with their time and energy taken up with helping out in the home and, often, the need to earn money.
This really underlines the challenging environments in which hundreds of millions of people are living across rural
sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty limits opportunity.
While the study was unable to detect widespread educational impacts of solar lanterns, one possible reason being
the low use of the lanterns (15%) used in the research group, it did establish that a significant number of off grid
households in Nigeria are using battery powered torches. This is interesting and certainly matches our observations
in the marketplace where there is an ever increasing array of battery powered torches and lanterns available.
Beebee Jump research with the public and solar light customers tells us a common source of off-grid lighting for
families is torches, not kerosene lanterns as in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Read more: Benefit of solar power
We take the view that the battery powered torches on the market are, from a health and safety perspective, better
options than candles and kerosene lanterns and it is good to see the decline of these fossil fuels being used for
lighting in Ogun state. The quality and lifespan of many of these lights is less clear, however. It is also important to
consider that they do require people to repeatedly purchase batteries, the cheapest of which last just a matter of
days. This results in the challenge of how to safely dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way in rural areas
with limited infrastructure. The fact that Beebee Jump has sold many solar lights in Nigeria demonstrates the added
value that these little lights can bring over torches.
What the research does not tell us, is why many of the solar lights distributed as part of the study remained
unused. Possible reasons include the reported problems experienced with the switches on many of the lights, other
members of families using the solar light or maybe the children preferring to use a torch already purchased by the
While this bares similarities to Beebee Jump’s School Campaign, we work through local head teachers, trusted
members of their communities, to emphasise the studying potential of a solar light to students and also the parents
of students. The head teachers and schools themselves are the ‘agents of change’ rather than research staff.
This may affect the motivation for purchase and subsequent usage in the household. Through this model, teachers
across five countries have told us about the benefits.
While different to evidence we have had before, the results of this study are not too surprising when considering the
context. It is entirely possible the impact would have been more significant if the baseline use of lighting was not
torch light, but kerosene or candles. There is certainly more we need to understand about this form of energy and
the perception of it.
Furthermore, why was the usage of the solar lights low? Would it have been higher if our School Campaign model
was used instead, or if we had replaced the lights sooner? These are useful questions for us to explore in continuing
to evolve our model and service to our customers.
We are confident that in any context, the overall impact of a solar light is more significant than torch lighting. The
questions posed by this study are the first steps to understanding more and how we can use them to reach millions
more families with clean and affordable energy.