Combining provision of solar-powered electricity and internet services

Image courtesy of LiFi-LED
Communications: Internet
Communications: Phone
Communications: Television
Energy: Solar power

Ange Frédérick Balma, an Ivorian computer and network engineer, stayed in a village without electricity, internet or mobile network. This prompted him to take initiative and build a prototype to equip populations in Côte d’Ivoire with sustainable access to electricity and the internet. In April 2017 he effectively piloted LiFi-LED in Drongouiné (a village in Western Côte d’Ivoire) before rapidly expanding his initiative across 30 Ivorian villages and other countries.


This initiative uses solar-powered LED light bulbs with integrated LiFi routers, connected to internet networks via ethernet cables. LiFi receivers that can be connected to computers, televisions or smartphones capture the light energy transmitted by the bulb and converts this into an electric signal that generates numeric information – in this case from the internet. Light bulbs can be installed outdoors and indoors and will transmit internet to users as long as they are within the scope of the light waves generated.

Social Impact

LiFi-LED is very resource efficient, making it physically convenient and financially accessible to customers via three different payment plans (€1 per day; €10 per week; €15 per month). Thereby it democratises sustainable access to electricity and the internet. Lighting makes public spaces safer at night and creates social or professional opportunities in private spaces. Internet access connects users to vast sources of information, which also generates educational and professional opportunities.

Environmental Impact

Entirely driven by solar power, LiFi-LED provides urban and rural communities with electricity and internet access with a lower environmental footprint than energy sources derived from fossil fuels (e.g. diesel generators).

Success Factors

Following his successful, self-funded pilot project in Dronguiné in 2017, Ange Frédérick Balma was awarded the Prix National d’Excellence de l’Innovation de Côte d’Ivoire. In the same year he received funding from the Ivorian Ministry of Digital Economy, the African Development Bank and US-AID, which allowed him to launch and rapidly expand his initiative into a growing start-up.


This initiative has continued to grow consistently and managed to retain its 30 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 LiFi-LED invested another €12 milllion to equip households in rural Gabon, also setting up a factory there to produce kits locally. Today LiFi-LED is present in eight African countries (Sénégal, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Morocco, Central African Republic, Liberia, Comoros & Gabon), has equipped over 200 villages and improved the lives of over 400,000 people.


Given that the initiative was initially self-funded, the entrepreneur saved costs during the pilot phase of the project by building his models using cheaper materials (e.g. certain electricity posts were built from unused plastics collected from local communities). LiFi-LED now uses professional materials, to ensure that its products are standardised and reliable. Beyond providing internet access, the company has also started to disseminate educational content via its LiFi technology, to improve access to education in Africa.


Despite the potential of LiFi technology, there is still a lack of political will to move away from more conventional alternatives. Additionally, a physical obstacle that cannot be changed is that LiFi technology is restricted by light barriers. It can only transmit information as long as LiFi receivers are within the light range of the transmitting bulbs; for example, it could not provide internet access through walls.

Founded in


Project type
Pilot project
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Started by Individual(s)
Founding Organisation Two

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Founding Organisation Three

Started by Individual(s)
Households reached
UN Sustainable Development Goal(s)

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A female technician from DC-GO working on a solar-powered unit
Image courtesy of DC Go.