AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- Philips Electronics NV, the world's largest maker of light bulbs, said Thursday it planned to build a major new plant in the southern African nation of Lesotho.
The company did not say how large the investment would be, but said the plant will produce 15 million compact fluorescent lamps annually once it is fully operational.
The plant is to be built jointly with the government of South Africa and Karebo Systems Ltd., with Philips taking a 40 percent stake and the other two investors 30 percent each.
Philips said it believed the new plant would both stimulate growth in Lesotho -- a mountainous country surrounded by South Africa -- and increase the use of energy-efficient bulbs in southern Africa.
The South African government has said it wants to replace 80 percent of incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs within eight years to save energy and cut carbon dioxide emissions.
''However, Philips expects to reduce this timeframe to approximately three years with the establishment of the Lesotho production facility,'' the company said in a statement.
The bulbs made at the factory save ''80 percent energy compared to incandescent bulbs and will help overcome energy shortages now being experienced in the region,'' Philips said.
It said it hoped to begin production in September, and later expand the facility to recycle used bulbs and also produce other lighting components.