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Off-grid solar solutions are critical for the welfare of poor and rural households in East Africa, West Africa and Southern Asia, underlines a new report issued by GOGLA.

According to the Powering Opportunity: Energising Work, Enterprise and Quality of Life with Off-Grid, 94-97% of customers reported that their quality of life had improved once they had solar home systems (SHS) – with most seeing improvements in their health and safety.

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The research found that the most common uses of extra productive time unlocked by SHS are agriculture and the sale of produce; while systems are being used to light local shops and charge phones for a fee. These are all essential services. Both now, and for the post COVID-19 recovery.

Leading off-grid solar markets

In East Africa, the cumulative additional time spent working as a result of the systems was found to equal 21 Full-Time-Equivalent (FTEs) for every 100 SHS sold.

In West Africa, they reveal eight FTEs are created for every 100 SHS sold, with an additional four FTEs per 100 SHS being unlocked in South Asia.

Given the size of the leading off-grid solar markets in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, and India, these results translate to millions of FTEs unlocked by the sector over the last decade and further demonstrate the sector’s potential to drive sustainable development. 

GOGLA President Radhika Thakkar and Susie Wheeldon, the research lead, both highlighted that the huge impacts gained by the sector are at risk as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This jeopardises years of hard work building networks and mechanisms to provide clean energy services to hard to reach, low-income and rural households around the world.  

“We must take action now to safeguard this impact and the potential of the off-grid sector,” said Thakkar.

“Not only will this keep the ‘lights on’ for millions of people, but it will also ensure that the industry is able to play an important role (re)building sustainable economies and communities, and in boosting resilience for some of the world’s poorest people,” she added.

The report urges decision-makers from around the world – policymakers, investors, and the international development community – to take note of the fast and cost-effective impacts that are being created by off-grid solutions.