Yingli Solar
M-KOPA solar III
M-KOPA solar III: powering over 20,000 Ugandan homes with solar power. Pic Credit: m-kopa

In Africa, off-grid quality solar products have tripled over the past three years, deploying clean and affordable power to an estimated 35 million people in rural communities.

This is according to a new report, which will be released later this month, by the World Bank Group and the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Solar benefiting communities

According to the report, “over 13 million off-grid quality verified solar products have been sold to date in developing countries, representing a new market worth $300 million [ZAR4 billion] annually.”

Currently an estimated 1.2 billion people globally do not have access to conventional electricity, a concern which is hoping to be addressed through the UN’s recently-agreed ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ targeting universal energy access by 2030.

Koen Peters, Executive Director of GOGLA, commented: “Solar lighting in the developing world was virtually nonexistent ten years ago. In recent years, we’ve seen great innovation and development in the industry, with companies proving they can deliver real impacts.

“The potential to improve lives is phenomenal. Yet we’ve only just begun to address the enormous demand from households for affordable electrical services.

He added: “It is critical that we build on the early successes and work with governments and donors to grow this market and achieve our goal of delivering basic electricity to every household before 2030.”

Solar innovations

The research and development of solar technology products has evolved at a rapid rate.

In Uganda, a pay-as-you-go energy service for off-grid homes has already connected 20,000 households to affordable and clean power.

This system was developed by Kenya-based M-KOPA Solar, who has plans to connect an additional 50,000 homes by the end of 2015.

According to GOGLA, investment in the sector has rapidly increased, with several companies having attracted investments of over $20 million (ZAR266 million).

Russell Sturm, Global Head for Energy Access at IFC, a member of the World Bank Group said: “The solar off-grid industry is poised to be a transformative engine for economic development.”

The detailed findings of the report will be announced at the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Exhibition in Dubai, which is co-organised by GOGLA and the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global programme.

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