Lighting Africa–part of World Bank’s efforts to developing a commercial off-grid lighting market in the continent–held its second Lighting Africa/Ethiopia off-grid gathering at Intercontinental Hotel, in the capital, on Thursday. The two-day gathering saw a slew of international businesses take part, showing an interest in the solar energy market within Ethiopia. Taking part this year were solar manufacturers, investors, financial institutions and high-level delegations from the local industry and a number of countries across the globe. Mobisol, All Slar, Oh Slar, Green Light Planet and Sunking were some of the companies represented. Discussions were held on the custom procedures of the nation, on quality standards and access to finance. Among the companies that were at the gathering, the Berlin-based Mobisol is known to have ventured into the continent offering affordable off-grid solutions to an estimated population of half-a-million in the region alone via a mobile payment plan.
The World Bank estimates that more than 500 million Africans lack basic electricity and the vast majority is not connected to the power grid.
The World Bank is behind a microfinance scheme plan to encourage farmers to use solar energy and make it affordable to attain it with an affordable loan of up to 75% and a time frame to pay back within 2 years. This is arranged with a phone payment plan using M-Birr.
For Lighting Africa, the effort for them is to help mobilize “the private sector to develop sustainable markets that provide affordable, modern off-grid lighting products and systems to communities across Africa that are not connected to grid electricity.”
The Ethiopian arm of Lighting Africa began in 2015 and it has so far enabled 1.1 million people meet their basic electricity needs through the purchase of 1.4 million quality-verified products, a growth that has been achieved through the involvement of government institutions, the private sector and the vast population.
The African continent–with the lowest electric power infrastructure in the world—has seen a promising start for solar energy entrepreneurs. With a friendly natural sunlight environment, the continent is seen as one that has not taken advantage of its favorable environment.
The latest local enterprise looking to enter the solar market is Samuel Tafesse of Sunshine Construction, who is said to plan and build a solar park with Orchid Business Group at a cost of USD 120 million.