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Off-grid solar energy drives African income growth
- Jul 18, 2018 -

Gogla, the global off-grid solar energy association, has released a new report assessing the economic impact of off-grid solar systems in East Africa. The report collected data from about 2,300 households in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. More than half of the respondents said that economic activity has increased, many of them starting businesses or significantly increasing household income. The report shows that the deployment of small self-contained solar systems in off-grid areas has had a positive economic impact.

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The data shows that 58% of households have recently installed off-grid solar systems, and because of the power supply, they can increase their workload or develop their businesses more. 36% of households have an average monthly income increase of $35 – equivalent to 50% of a family's monthly average GDP in this region. In addition, due to the power lighting, respondents indicated that they can spend more time on work or housework. This improvement has brought income to the family and increased the economic activity of the business owner. 11% of respondents reported that as the use of technologies such as smartphones continued to expand, they began a new business after the electrification of off-grid solar systems. In 7% of households, at least one family member received a new job due to the deployment of solar energy.

Koen Peters, executive director of Gogla, said the report showed that the net economic benefits and net social benefits of the net solar energy were a great opportunity for the government of the developing countries. Government officials focus on employment and economic issues, and this report shows the direct and significant impact of off grid solar energy on these two aspects. Gogla appealed to policymakers, the Treasury and the energy sector to work with off net companies, banks and institutions to break the barriers to the net solar energy and to build a way to accelerate energy penetration.

The association emphasizes that there are still 1 billion 100 million people in the world without electricity supply, most of them in Africa or Asia. Rural economic activities have been the most affected.

In countries with generally low economic activity, the expansion of the grid infrastructure is very expensive, which has adverse effects on energy pricing. However, due to the lack of electricity supply, profitable economic activities are hard to start. To solve this problem, cheap off grid solar systems have been deployed more and more since 2010.