65 million in Africa could access solar lighting by 2015: Lighting Africa report

24-11-2010, Washington, DC, United States

Africa is poised to become biggest market for solar portable lights by 2015. This is just one of the key findings of the report entitled Solar Lighting for the Base of the Pyramid – Overview of an Emerging Market that the Lighting Africa program has just released.

The report presents a snapshot of the solar portable lights market, which covers a range of lighting needs from individual tasks to general household lighting. It includes projected trends over the next five years.

Although technology-neutral as a program, Lighting Africa has conducted this research with a particular focus on solar portable lights. This is an emerging and fast growing part of the off-grid sector that deserves attention by the lighting industry, investors and the international development community.

Key findings

  • Solar portable lights could provide access to clean and safe lighting by 2015 to an estimated 65 million Africans  who are currently either have no electricity access or are under-electrified. This development potential is attributed to three factors: a significant improvement in the quality and performance of solar portable lights in the past five years, a decline in the retail price, and products features that have been adapted to meet consumer needs.
  • The market potential for solar portable lights is enormous and ripe for investment; the findings indicate a 40 – 50% compounded annual growth rate in sales volume for the next 5 years .
  • Despite the tremendous growth, the market penetration for solar portable lights is likely to increase from 0.5 % to 4 % by 2015. This is primarily driven by a mix of low grid penetration and high population growth rates.
  • Access to finance  is the biggest challenge to scaling the solar lighting market, according to 27 % of the surveyed market players.
  • Other barriers include high taxes and tariff burden, market spoilage, by sub-standard products, low consumer awareness and ineffective distribution and servicing.

The report relies on the input of a broad range of industry experts, manufacturers, distributors and  civil society organizations, including over 70 solar market players in over ten African markets and a dozen lighting product manufacturers worldwide. This will become a regular publication that will be updated every two years and circulated widely within the global off-grid lighting industry.

Lighting Africa: a REEEP-supported initiative

Lighting Africa, a joint IFC and World Bank program which is supported by REEEP, seeks to accelerate the development of commercial off-grid lighting markets in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the World Bank Group’s wider efforts to improve access to energy. The programme is helping mobilise the private sector to build sustainable markets to provide 2.5 million people with safe, affordable, and modern off-grid lighting by 2012.  The longer-term goal is to eliminate market barriers for the private sector to reach 250 million people in Africa without electricity, and using fuel based lighting, by 2030.

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