Solar home systems can help to bridge the electrification gap in developing countries—if certain conditions are met.
About a billion people have no access to electricity. While progress in lessening that figure has been steady, it is still likely to be at least 870 million in 2020.1Expanding the grid is part of the answer to the question of how to bring power to these people, but it is not the only one. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,2which make up 90 percent of the world’s unelectrified population, are also exploring off-grid solutions, including solar home systems (SHSs). So are countries in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, which account for most of the remaining unelectrified population. The global market for SHSs has grown 23 percent a year since 2012,3representing more than four million units installed.
Solar lightbulbs, mini power grids, and batteries could soon supply energy to disadvantaged, rural regions that old-fashioned transmission lines and centralized coal-fired generators will never reach. But while prices of renewables have tumbled, and some say the technology offers lower-income countries the chance to leapfrog over more cumbersome ways of delivering energy, significant challenges remain — particularly around how to finance energy access for the poor.
Most of the world’s energy-poor populations live far from electricity networks. That includes about 57 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa, or 588 million, who remain without access to electricity according to the International Energy Agency; and just over 1 billion worldwide, the United Nations estimates. The U.N.’s seventh Sustainable Development Goal aims to close that gap by 2030, ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services.
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.
(Lighting Africa, 27 Feb 2018)
On March 6th, the government of Niger will announce the official launch of a US $7 million line of credit aiming to stimulate the development of a solar home system (SHS) market for products meeting Lighting Global Quality Standards as well as for quality solar pumping systems.