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Africa ramps up solar home systems, Nigeria should too

Data revealed there are over 2,300 new off-grid solar users

According to the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) five Africa countries including Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda represent around 45 percent of the global off-grid Solar Home System (SHS) market as data revealed there are over 2,300 new off-grid solar users in these countries.

SHS are solar technologies that are made up of a solar PV panel, battery and LED lights which provide light and power to a household or business and are sold in countries that have large populations living off-grid.

While Nigeria has many SHS installations, it is yet to gain the same traction as these African countries.

GOGLA revealed that nearly 60percent of off-grid solar customers in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda undertook more economic activity within just three months of purchasing a SHS; whether gaining a new job, using their system directly within a business or being able to be more productive by working for longer hours.

“For more than a third of customers, this access to electricity has already enabled them to increase their monthly income by $35 a month, more than half the average monthly GDP per capital,” GOGLA said.


In the five Africa countries, GOGLA said SHS allows 44 percent of users to be more flexible with their daily activities and spend more time at work. “Almost half of these customers have already found these extra work hours enable them to make more income: on average, an additional $25 per month.”


GOGLA said 13 percent of customers use SHS to support a business they operated prior to purchasing their system: primarily shops, stalls, bars or restaurants while 11percent of customers started a new enterprise after purchasing the SHS. The most common being a phone charging business.


Although phone charging for a fee is the most common activity overall, GOGLA noted that the biggest returns are seen in retail shops, which increase their revenue by an average of $36 per month.


Overall, 24 percent of customers use their system to support their business, with 89 percent seeing this reflected in increased revenues. On average business owners generate an additional $29 per month.


In addition, GOGLA report said over 90 percent of households that replaced toxic kerosene lamps with solar alternatives reported that they have experienced improvements in both health and feelings of safety.


Globally, Off-grid solar is recognized as a fast and affordable alternative for scaling up energy access across the globe, delivering a wide range of improvements to the quality of life.

According to GOGLA, Nigeria has the second largest potential off-grid market in the world after India with 8 percent of the global off-grid household population of 434 million households. The country’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA) plans to deploy 10,000 mini-grids across the country and yet estimates that installing 100kWh each per mini-grid will only meet 30 percent of anticipated demand in the country.

They hinged their conviction on the fact that Bangladesh with a population of over 158 million and has shown from implementing off-grid power solutions which made its government to initiate the Solar Home System (SHS)-based rural electrification programme in 2003 through Infrastructure Development Company Limited under a micro-credit scheme.

In 2002, only 7,000 Bangladeshi households used solar panels but as of today, the programme has installed about two million SHS in the country.

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