Moving from crisis to recovery in 2021

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2020 began as such a promising year for GOGLA and the off-grid solar industry. We kicked it off with another fantastic edition of our Global Off-Grid Solar Forum in Nairobi. After that, of course you know how chaotic, confusing, and often painful this year has been. No one could have predicted that 2020 will be the year we’ll need to fight a pandemic. However, we already knew that we live our lives and operate our businesses in a “VUCA” world – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.

The crisis emphasized the value and impact of off-grid solar for the people who need it most. We heard from our members that off-grid solar consumers, even when suffering badly under lockdown measures, continued to value and pay for their solar products. Many governments now recognize the importance of our industry, as we saw reflected in off-grid solar businesses being designated as “essential services” which should continue to operate during lockdowns. And while many companies got badly hurt financially (many are struggling still), we also saw investors who continued to back their investees or made new investments, explaining that they remain impressed with the impact and potential this industry delivers.

Even though we are not yet through the difficult times, we must not lose sight of this impact, nor the importance of our industry’s work. As David Attenborough’s new film and the book describes so aptly, human activity has put the world’s ecosystem out of balance, guaranteeing us more shocks to come, for example from climate change. Our sector is helping to soften these impacts, by being an important contributor to clean energy transition, and by boosting resilience for the world’s poorest. It is encouraging to see off-grid solar being increasingly recognized for the important contribution it makes to the broader energy agenda. And it is also encouraging that, as we move from ‘crisis’ to ‘recovery’, we see new leadership evolving, calling for more investment in energy access. One example is the recent report from the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty, which I had the chance to be part of.

With our new 2021-2024 strategy, GOGLA aspires to lead, support, and enhance the industry, even more than we have to date, creating a step-change in our ambition, by:

  • Promoting a shared vision for the industry, communicating its wide-ranging impacts to new, strategic audiences, and providing market-leading data and insights on industry trends;
  • Convening our members to gain their expert insights and to catalyse critical partnerships and initiatives that will accelerate sector growth, and
  • Safeguarding the industry’s impact, by enhancing our work to share knowledge with policymakers, investors, and other critical stakeholders, and expanding our guidance and standards to help companies perform.

Our ability to do so is not a given, however. Besides the important contributions from our members, we also rely on many partners who support us, financially or in other ways. GOGLA has been lucky to have had the support of so many partners thus far – but we can certainly use more support, to deliver our plans and ambitions, helping our industry grow and perform.

Yet what we know, at the end of 2020 even more than ever before: The work of GOGLA and this industry is urgent. It is important. It delivers concrete results.

It is immensely inspiring, helping our members and partners, to perform and to deliver impact in a “VUCA” world. We thank our members, partners, and supporters for the fantastic work we have been able to do together in 2020. We don’t know yet what 2021 will bring, but we are already looking forward to mastering the challenges and seizing the opportunities together.

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