Off-grid electricity access accelerating in Asia and Africa

04 Mar 2016, 12:00 am
Chibuike Oguh


The sales of off-grid solar products in emerging markets are expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2020.

Solar-powered system providing power to a small village minigrid

The sales of off-grid solar products in emerging markets are expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2020. According to a report released on Thursday by the World Bank and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), in collaboration with the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), this will provide access to improved energy for 100 million households with no access to the grid.

The report, titled Off-Grid Solar Market Trends, shows that the off-grid solar industry in emerging markets is booming and investors are committing significant funds, with a primary focus on pay-as-you-go business models. The report finds that annual investments into the industry have risen to $276 million in 2015, a fifteen-fold increase since 2012. It also shows that 89 million people in Africa and Asia already enjoy improved access to energy by using off-grid solar products.

“The report provides a comprehensive view of the state of one of the most impactful industries in the global economy today,” said Russell Sturm, Global Head of IFC’s Energy Access and World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program.

“This is the third in a series produced by the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global Program since the industry’s emergence seven years ago and illustrates how off-grid solar can be a game changer for development as well as a unique business opportunity for the private sector in the energy access space.”

Solar-powered portable lights and home kits offer a safer, cheaper and environmentally friendlier service to the 1.2 billion people who live without access to the power grid and currently spend about $27 billion annually on fuel-based lighting and mobile-phone charging technologies.

"The pay-as-you-go business model combines rapid innovation in solar, batteries and LED lights with the transformative power of mobile communication technology,” said Itamar Orlandi, BNEF’s Head of Applied Research. “This allows new companies to build services, sales and a deep understanding of their customers at an accelerating pace, which in turn is attracting new sources of growth capital into the industry.”


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