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Africa: Off-grid lighting industry has room to grow

Koen Peters is confident that the sector can deliver clean power to the 1.3bn living without electricity

The off-grid lighting and household electrification sector will help light up close to 100 million homes by 2020, this is according to market trends presented at a conference held in Dubai this week.

The event, which was hosted by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) and the World Bank Group (WBG), highlighted “global efforts to improve energy access for those without reliable, grid-based electricity by promoting clean, quality off-grid lighting solutions,” the Lighting Association said in a statement.

Koen Peters, Executive Director of GOGLA highlighted: “This was the first year the conference was held outside of Africa, signifying that the industry is coming of age.

“By building key partnerships, securing the right financing, the right policies, and ensuring product quality, I am confident we can deliver access to basic electricity to the 1.3 billion people who currently live without it.”

Delivering cleaner solutions to consumers

Research revealed by the host organisers, indicates that the off-grid lighting industry has enabled customers to save an estimated $3 billion, which would have been spent on kerosene and batteries.

According to GOGLA, since 2008, more than 15 million solar lighting and electrification products have been sold and disseminated to 66 million people.

Driving investment

In January 2016, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report will be released, where the findings allude to how investors have acknowledged the opportunities and injected an estimated quarter of a billion dollars into the sector within the past two years. In addition, emerging pay-as-you-go business models are starting to kick off.

Global Head of IFC’s Energy Access and WBG’s Lighting Global programme, Russell Sturm, said: “The World Bank Group played a key role in identifying this new market, working with the private sector to develop it, and is now enabling its scale-up as commercial investors come to the table. The impact of this sector will undoubtedly be transformational.”

According to UK Minister of State for International Development, Grant Shapps, investors need to take advantage of this time and invest in off-grid solar lighting now, while the industry is maturing to become a vibrant commercial market.

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.