First mission for LDWB

Between 2008 and 2010, Lighting Designers Without Borders has led its first mission. This mission was launched at the request of Énergie du Mali (EDM), electrity supplier of the country. It consisted in setting up a training and consulting program for EDM’s technicians and engineers from Bamako and Timbuktu. An agreement was signed between EDM and Lighting Designers Without Borders in 2008.

The mission took place between Bamako and Paris as a part of the design of a lighting plan that was planned for the 50th anniversary of Mali’s independence. In addition with the lack of documentation, information or lighting “culture”, the managers of these interventions have very little financial means. The aim was to work voluntarily so people can learn competences through a program adapted to Malian characteristics (culture, financial and human means).

This help project included 3 phases: technical training, help for planning and lighting design, and support from the application of the design until reception of installations.

As it was planned, the sites Lighting Designers Without Borders worked on were lit up on September 22nd 2010, for the 50th anniversary of Mali’s Independence.


The goal that was set, training a lasting and autonomous team, was not completely reached. During the mission, the team initiating the project was replaced, except from one person, strongly involved in the project.

Despite everything, the enthusiasm of this first team and its commitment to the subject showed that Lighting Designers Without Borders meets a real need for expertise. Several participants showed a true interest and wanted to learn more when they discovered how important lighting design is, even on small projects.
Several unexpected logistic problems (due to both delivery issues and work methods of the Malian team) prevented us from carrying out all the lightings planned.
However, the very positive reaction of Bamako’s inhabitants to the lightings set up rewarded EDM’s technicians, their installer and the association for their efforts.

Today, this first experience serves as a point of comparison to define ongoing missions.

Mission to follow

We kept in touch with EDM, potentially to continue this mission in order to realize unfinished projects.

The team

Sara Castagné
Isabelle Corten
Marc Dumas
Philippe Ferreira
Jean-François Glière
Pascal Gougeon
François Magos,
Philippe Mussard
Pierre Martin
Roger Narboni
Virginie Nicolas
Frédérique Parent
Edouard Sacre
Florence Serre
Michel Thimoreau
Virginie Van der Plaetsen


MARCH 2008

Lighting Designers Without Borders went to Bamako to meet with its interlocutors, discover their public lighting installations and also begin the first training sessions with 25 technicians and executives from Énergie du Mali (EDM), from the Minister of Energy and the city of Bamako.

On-site tests took place in Bamako (in a public garden and downtown) and in Timbuktu (on the gorgeous 14th-century mosque Djinguereber, part of Unesco’s world heritage list) : this was an intense moment of sharing. Thorn Lighting, partner of the association, recommended the association to its local contacts and donated lighting equipment.


Team: Roger Narboni, Marc Dumas, Pierre Martin,
25 engineers and executives from EDM, Minister of Energy and the city of Bamako.

JULY 2008

Four people from EDM came to France for a week, to specialize in lighting design and public lighting planning.

Aim of the Malian team: become the main interlocutors of the association.

Aim of Lighting Designers Without Borders: giving Malians the possibility to be in charge and develop, design and renovate their own public lighting and future illuminations.


– Theoretical training: installer, masts, urban planning, products.
– Visit of a factory and Thorn Lighting’s measurements laboratory.
– Collective development of the lighting plan: creation of a night infographics images allowing Malian teams to present their projects to the elected members.
– A taskforce of a dozen members was created in the association.
First step: sharpening training contents, defining innovative ways of thinking and working. A collect for fundings and equipment was launched to support several Malian projects.

EDM and Lighting Designers Without Borders identified 21 sites to be highlighted in Bamako. Amongst these 21 sites, 9 were selected for an intervention led by LDWB, and EDM will work on the 11 others.

Bamako’s lighting plan was developed by Lighting Designers Without Borders in June 2008, and the 9 sites will be the object of a collective lighting design.

Africa Tower
Independence Monument
Martys Monument
Lumumba Monument
Modibo Keita Memorial
Monument de Bienvenue
Monument de la Paix
Porte de Bamako
Place de la Liberté
City Hall
archives building


Three people from Lighting Designers Without Borders went to Bamako during 5 days.

Goals: keeping up with the training (electricity, symbols), keeping up with the lighting plan of Bamako 2010, approving the selection of sites and technical choices, evaluating electrical installations and estimating all costs.

Electrical training

Intended for people in charge of studies, new building work and operations.

– Theoretical training indoors (study of networks, protection of installations, electrical enclosures and lighting equipment maintenance)
– Visit of installations: each site was subjected to a detailed analysis (type of cables, enclosures, power supply…)
– Debriefing: operation managers asked questions and talked about their difficulties, mainly related to a lack of financial means, vandalism and the fact that they do not know the products.

“Symbols” training

This training was requested by EDM and involved 6 people from EDM and Bamako’s city hall.
– Creation of a PowerPoint presentation, representing night lighting based on daylight pictures processed with Photoshop. This presentation was based on selected sites.

Sites approval

– Localization of the sites with day and night photographs, and also detailed plans.

A conversation started with some users who expressed their night-time vision of the buildings. Night photographs were also used as a basis for the training on lighting environment.

Tasks assignment

Projects were classified according to their symbolic importance and their size. EDM and LDWB divided up the selected sites.
– EDM is in charge of simple projects, on which its teams can work and be completely independent.
– Lighting Designers Without Borders, in collaboration with EDM, manages all 9 main projects which need a certified experience in lighting.

Project presented to political representatives

The association presents EDM and LDWB’s approach to the colonel intendant of the presidential palace.


Lighting Designers Without Borders formalized the 9 projects.

MARCH 2009

Three people from Lighting Designers Without Borders went to Bamako.

Goal: allowing a lighting design’s process thanks to projects formalized by the association and thoughts from Malian partners. Hand over the projects to Énergie du Mali.



– The design of a project involves different steps which were detailed. The projects were also compared to the sites. There were many discussions with our partners from EDM and local authorities. Generally, the projects were very positively seen.
– Performing night tests and facing ground reality (correction of technical choices, importance of settings details, or the visual impact of a beam on distance and near vision).
– Visual representation of the project: as infographics is not a medium adapted to the Malian team, a pencil-drawing from black and white photographs turned out to be a great solution.


EDM and Lighting Designers Without Borders are preparing the next steps of the projects, in view of ensuring that future installations will last.

The Malian team should come to Paris in July 2009 and Lighting Designers Without Border’s team planned to go back to Bamako in October 2009, once the equipment will be delivered.

Janvier 2012

Le parc de Martissant : ancienne habitation Mangonès pour le mémorial du 12 janvier

Avec la perspective d’une mise en lumière du mémorial le jour de l’inauguration, la Fokal finance une mission d’un mois pour CLSF (R.Girouard)


We are behind schedule: the Malian team cannot come and the equipment was not delivered in October.

EDM’s team is coming to France in October for a week, to complete its training and also coordinate technical questions with Lighting Designers Without Borders. Unresolved questions about installations and electricity supply for the lighting of the 9 sites in Bamako will also be talked about. The journey to Bamako is postponed to 2010.

JULY 2010

Goal: construction stake-out, wiring, verification of orders


Inventory of fixtures

– A Senegalese firm was hired by EDM to carry out installations. This firm is very competent.
– The Malian team changed, including the person in charge. The new team did not take over the documents realized with the previous team. Only one very motivated technician remains from this previous team.
– There were many problems concerning the orders (electrical power, forgotten filters, excess of equipment, no spare lamps) – impossible to approve the orders.
– Network problems (unstable)


– Change in the projects’ organization: LDWB takes a more important part in the projects, as the only technician from EDM remaining of the initial group cannot do the work alone (he did not know the equipment, the projects, the accessories).
– Taking over the projects’ files and pointing out differences.
– Explaining projects and adjustments to EDM and ERT.

During the intervention

– Construction stake-out
– Marking
– Staking plan update

Making yourself understood

– Lighting Designers Without Borders takes part in some of the projects at the request of EDM. The Malian team did not carry out its part of lighting design on the sites assigned to the team.
– EDM’s new team does not fully understand the voluntary aspect of this intervention: it has to be explained again.