Solar Lighting in Developing Countries Expands to $300 Million per Year Industry

Over 13 million off-grid quality verified solar products have been sold to date in developing countries, representing a new market worth $300 million annually. In Africa alone, sales have tripled in the last three years providing affordable, clean modern lighting for 35 million rural Africans, according to a new report to 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.

The report’s findings mark a major increase in the number of people benefitting from cleaner, safer homes, with more productive study and work time, yielding economic benefits. At present, over 1 billion people live without access to basic electricity service. The progress achieved by this rapidly growing industry is important to the global development agenda, as with the UN’s recently-agreed ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ targeting universal energy access by 2030. The detailed findings of the report will be announced at the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Exhibition in Dubai, which is co-organized by GOGLA and the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program.

Koen Peters, Executive Director of GOGLA, says: “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. 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 lighting and solar household electrification products have now evolved together with business models to deliver the products to market at unprecedented rates. As a result, many business are now providing low income households in Africa and Asia with affordable, high quality lighting, phone charging and other basic solar-powered energy services. Investment in the sector has rapidly increased, with several companies having attracted investments of over $20 million.

“The solar off-grid industry is poised to be a transformative engine for economic development,” said Russell Sturm, Global Head for Energy Access at IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. “The upcoming conference in Dubai can be a game changer. It can help ensure that the full potential of this young industry is unleashed on solid grounds by engaging all the key players including the most-forward thinking minds of governments, development organizations and private sector companies.”

The three day conference and accompanying exhibition on 26 – 29 October will be the largest event for the sector to date, expecting to convene over 400 delegates who will discuss how to expand the early success of this sector sustainably. They will focus on how private sector-led commercial businesses can play a key role in achieving universal electricity access.

The event will bring together Nobel Prize Winner Professor Muhammad Yunus and Grant Shapps MP – UK Minister of State for International Development, who will be joined by investors, entrepreneurs, as well as business and technology leaders. Key sector challenges and opportunities will be put under the spotlight at the UAE event, including access to finance; government policies supporting market development; as well as technology and business innovation.


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