The lighting industry of South Africa was previously represented by three organizations, namely:

SANCI (South African National Committee on Illumination) which represented South Africa internationally and served on international committees on various topics.
ILESA (Institute for Lighting Engineers of South Africa), which focused on education for the lighting industry.
SALA (South African Lighting Association), which represented the lighting manufacturing industry on technical committees of organizations such as SABS and SEIFSA.

During the year 2002, a committee consisting of representatives of each the three organizations was established to investigate the feasibility of uniting the three organizations . The concept was enthusiastically received by the lighting industry and the committee recommended that a unified lighting body be established. As a result, IESSA (Illumination Engineering Society of South Africa) was established in January 2004.