10 years later, off-grid solar industry delivers power to millions

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Since 2009 the off-grid solar energy has delivered quality energy services to hundreds of millions of people, something traditional electricity utilities had been unable or unwilling to serve, say World Bank analysts Dana Rysankova and Russell Sturm in a report for the organisation.

The report said that in 2009 off-grid solar was almost completely unknown as Lighting Africa kicked off in Kenya. Today the industry is thriving across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and beyond.

While in 2010 only six products met Lighting Global Quality Standards –today nearly 40 million units of over 150 quality verified products have been sold. A gray market of less reliable products also flourishes alongside, the report observes.

The impact of this growth is seen in Nigeria in thousands of new connections established daily in rural areas where grid electricity is non-existence. With over 80 million people without energy access in Nigeria and the utilities burdened by liquidity constraints, the off-grid energy sector is poised to close the gaps.

“The off-grid energy sector has been succeeding primarily on commercial terms, with over $500 million in investment pouring into the sector in the past two years. Electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa is now out-pacing population growth – which is largely attributed to off-grid solar expansion,” says the report.

New businesses have been created and it has helped stir competition. “One of the signs of a healthy dynamic is increasing levels of competition. These competitive forces stimulate innovation, efficiency, and reach, strengthening an industry’s long-term viability and building market resilience.

The story of the older and more mature solar PV manufacturing sector provides context for the younger off-grid solar industry: In 2012 alone, at the peak of the solar PV manufacturing industry’s shake-out period, some 40 companies closed operations and another seven companies were absorbed … Read More...