Given the high cost and slow pace of grid expansion to rural areas, decentralised options are often the cheapest and fastest way to extend sustainable energy access to these parts. Solar PV systems are the cheapest source of electricity for over one-third of Africa’s population – a figure that is rapidly increasing with falling solar prices.

 

Energy Africa

A community in Kenya installs a solar PV system
A community in Kenya installs a solar PV system

In November the Energy Africa campaign was launched by DfID, aiming to accelerate access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa through solar household solutions. This campaign is focussed on supporting the growth of off-grid solar markets in sub-Saharan Africa. The work which underlies the campaign, prepared jointly by ODI, Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), Practical Action and SolarAid, presents evidence of the impact of solar household systems, reviews the market in the region and 13 selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and identifies the key policy measures to enable accelerated electricity access through solar household solutions.

This works feeds into both the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and Power for All's market activation work.

The report looks at:

  • The impacts of access to off-grid solar household energy
  • The market for household off-grid solar solutions in Africa
  • Policies needed to accelerate growth of off-grid solar markets
  • Briefings on off-grid solar in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

 Infographic demonstrating potential scale of solar home system markets in Africa

 

Policies to accelerate energy access through solar home systems

A rapid expansion of the market for solar household systems will require appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks in sub-Saharan African countries. The report's consultation with stakeholders in the market and with policy makers, combined with analysis from other studies, identified nine key measures to create a supportive policy environment for solar household solutions. These are:

  • The removal of policy uncertainty, by including off-grid electrification through market mechanisms in national electrification plans.
  • Help to mobilise access to finance for actors across the value chain, in cooperation with financial institutions and other funding organisations.
  • Measures to facilitate the import of household solar related equipment, for example by removing fiscal and import barriers.
  • Promotion of consumer awareness about access to electricity through clean, high-quality solar products.
  • Ease access to end-user finance, through mobile payments and micro-finance.
  • Build a qualified workforce for the sector and increase domestic value creation by developing training capacity. 
  • The adoption of international quality standards and raising consumer awareness about them, to prevent market spoilage from sub-standard products.
  • The provision of a level playing field for the household solar sector, including reviewing subsidies for liquid fuels.
  • The protection of consumers’ rights by ensuring solar system providers are accountable through legal provisions.

 

 

Key publications from the report series are available below. To access the full report and 13 country case studies, visit the Off-Grid Solar report page of ODI.

Key publications

Preview

Accelerating access to electricity in Africa with off-grid solar - Executive Summary

This report was prepared for the UK Department for International Development in support of preparations for the Energy Africa access campaign, which aims to accelerate access to electricity in...

 
Preview

Accelerating access to electricity in Africa with off-grid solar - Policy Paper

Rapid expansion of the market for solar household systems requires an appropriate policy and regulatory framework. Companies operating in the market have identified policy barriers as a critical...

 
Preview

Accelerating access to electricity in Africa with off-grid solar - Solar Market Systems

This paper describes how the household solar market in sub-Saharan Africa has grown to date, its current status and possible future trends. The paper, one of three background papers prepared for the...

 
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