Flashlight batteries in Africa.

Most of Africa's population lives without access to electricity. The continent is overwhelmingly rural, and subsistence farming is a primary economic activity.

African households are large. According to one widely accepted estimate, the average African household consists of 6 people. The average, however, is misleading since household size and composition varies dramatically from region to region. Many households consist of extended families. Men dominate economic and social life.

Under such circumstances, survey information is difficult to compile and is, therefore, rare.

A late June 2005 story carried by the Xinhua News Agency (Beijing), the state run news service of China, described the success of a joint China, Kenya venture for battery manufacture in Kenya. The venture owed its existence to a generally accepted idea about the large size of the flashlight battery market in Africa. The Xinhua story characterized the African flashlight battery market as "enormous" adding that the Chinese/Kenyan venture had already captured 40 percent of the Kenya market. But it did not attempt to quantify market potential.

Rural Chinese households overwhelmingly use biomass for energy needs with firewood and charcoal the most important fuels for heating and cooking. Lighting is normally provided by the ubiquitous "bush" lamp, usually locally made but sometimes commercially available...

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