Monitoring the vital signs: COVID-19 and the off-grid solar industry

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Image: Unsplash/Carlos Muza

COVID-19 has sent a shockwave through the global economy. The number of cases continues to grow in many countries and the timeline for a universally available vaccine remains uncertain. Even as economies start to re-open, signs of a protracted crisis are present in low commodity prices, drops in remittances and tourism, forex volatility, and stretched government and donor budgets. How long it lasts and how deep it hurts remains to be seen.

We in the off-grid solar industry are all grappling with the questions – “Are we managing? How are we performing today, and are we resilient enough for the risks of tomorrow?” There has been an array of surveys, summits, and stories to provide insights to these questions; with sometimes coherent, and sometimes contradictory messages.

This blog presents an overview of GOGLA’s market insight initiatives; the aim is to clarify how the various pieces fit together and why they are needed. We believe that to build our resilience and return to growth, we must first understand what is happening in the market. As with any patient that has health concerns, we first need to determine the condition and then provide specialised treatment and monitoring.

GOGLA and our partners are working to gather and publish market insights to:

  1. Enable companies to better understand challenging market dynamics and inform business strategy and contingency plans.
  2. Provide market insights to inform investment decisions that will enable business continuity and growth of the sector.
  3. Inform the recovery and response strategies of sector support partners and programs, to ensure companies and consumers get targeted and effective assistance.

The Market Insights Initiative Map shows the various initiatives in place to track the vital signs for customers, companies, investors, and in the policy space. This array of insights helps deepen our understanding as the complex crisis unfolds and build a narrative of how we’re managing.

We strongly encourage companies to participate in these initiatives so that we capture an accurate and representative picture. We realise there is survey fatigue, and even frustration at a lack of resulting initiatives. Further, that many companies and individuals are stressed and stretched. We’re working to reduce the burden of responding as much as possible, by coordinating with partners to avoid duplication and minimising the level of effort to participate.

Market Insights Initiative Map – Data Collection Initiatives

Consumer Companies Investor Policy
Consumer Insights survey by 60 Decibels Energy Access Industry Barometer by EnDev Deals Database by GOGLA, supported by GET.invest COVID-19 Policy Tracker by GOGLA
Sales & Impact Data by GOGLA, Lighting Global, EforA Investor survey by Catalyst Off-Grid Advisors and GOGLA
PAYGo COVID Impact Monitor by MFR

Market Insights Initiative Map – Performance Measures

Consumer Companies Investor Policy
Product usages Impact and challanges Equity, debt, and grant deals Policy measures and responses
Satisfaction Sales Investor sentiment and behaviour
Payment behaviour Portfolio quality
Financial health Job figures
Cash runway and finance needs
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