As we reflect on the past year and look ahead to 2023, we’re proud, concerned, and hopeful all at the same time.
Proud because we delivered our flagship Global Off-Grid Solar Forum & Expo this October to over 1000 attendees from across the globe, with three packed days of sessions and some 65 exhibitors, and the generous support of over 20 sponsors and partners. The event was rated a tremendous 9 out of 10 by participants – our best event ever!
This year we also produced the latest edition of the Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report, with a bigger role for GOGLA than in previous editions. We made steps in building out our capacities to better serve our members and the off-grid solar industry. We’ve gathered data and insights; strengthened industry tools for consumer protection, circularity, and performance reporting; and helped locally-owned start-up companies navigate our industry better.
With the ongoing success of the Community of Champions and the PowerUp! program, we’re equally proud of the strides we have made with government stakeholders and with national regional energy associations, strengthening the cooperation with these critical stakeholders for our industry.
2022 marked our 10th anniversary and we take inspiration from the years behind us. With our team of almost 30 colleagues, spread across 7 countries, we look back with pride on how far we have come as an organisation, the members we represent, and the partners we have inspired.
Yet at the same time, we’re concerned.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought the industry showed a lot of resilience and was quick to bounce back. However, it is now clear that many of its impacts still linger. And the global market remains very volatile, with conflicts, natural disasters, gloomy economic forecasts, and supply chain disruptions adding to the challenges. As a consequence, the customers of our members are still experiencing one challenge after the other. As a result, there are now 120 million fewer people connected than projected.
Against this background, the investment landscape for our industry is getting even more out of balance than it already was. Overall volumes of investment are increasing, after years of standstill. However only a few companies are really benefitting from this. Obtaining equity financing is becoming an ever greater and more critical challenge for many companies in the industry.
Still, as we look toward 2023, there’s also a lot to be hopeful for!
Public-private sector cooperation is really taking off. In the Forum, Nigeria and Rwanda were discussed as two big success stories of public and private stakeholders working together. There are more successful support programs already happening or in the pipeline, all building evidence that rapid increases in energy access are really possible, with the right mindset and approach.
The industry continues to be a hub of innovation and improvement. Over the last 5 years, the industry has been delivering life-changing impacts through the sales of productive use technologies, which we see maturing at impressive speeds. We also see many companies investing in technologies aimed at replacing fossil-fuel generators or helping households and businesses with weak grid situations. These show huge potential and they are here to stay.
Locally owned companies are driving more and more of the industry’s growth and reach, and they are receiving more support, like seed funding and technical assistance, to help them succeed. At the same time, some of our larger and more established members have been able to tap into impressive amounts of new funding, ensuring further growth in the coming years.
At the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, energy access was higher on the agenda than in the past. While it remains early days, climate finance has huge potential to support the industry with additional revenue streams from carbon finance, or by attracting additional public funding or private investment.
All this makes the work of GOGLA and off-grid solar development partners even more urgent. With our “Power 1 Billion Lives by 2030” Energy Compact we made a commitment to improve the lives of 1 billion people by 2030.
We want to reach 550 million people with first-time energy access; help 260 million people that have some access, get better energy access; and help 190 million people with access to energy for productive use. A billion people that we want to help with more opportunities, and to be better prepared to deal with the challenges of the future.
Closing off 2022, we want to thank all our members and partners for your support in the past year. We remain bold and cooperative in our commitment to accelerate universal energy access, in developing economies, making people resilient and creating opportunities for them. And we can only do that because we can rely on such great members and partners to work with!
Wish you all a great holiday season, and we look forward to continuing our inspiring journey together in 2023.