GOGLA position in response to Skypower’s announcement on donation 3.5 million solar home systems in Kenya and Bangladesh

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GOGLA position in response to Skypower’s announcement on donation 3.5 million solar home systems in Kenya and Bangladesh

In response to recent announcements in the press by Skypower, of a plan to donate two million solar home systems to Kenyan households, the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) has reached out to Skypower to seek clarification on the details of this plan. Based on conversations with Skypower representatives in Kenya, it has emerged that this plan is still in an early stage of development. Its funding is part of a larger solar PV electrification investment programme and therefore not yet confirmed. Details of this are still in discussion between Skypower and the Kenyan Government. If implemented, the Solar Home Systems give-away program would be delivered over a minimum of five years. Last week, Skypower announced in New York that the company intends to give away a further 1.5 million solar home systems in Bangladesh, again as part of a larger on-grid solar PV electrification investment. Further details of this plan are still unknown. GOGLA fully encourages Skypower to promote energy access at scale, and warmly welcomes it as a new actor in the off-grid space. Nonetheless, GOGLA is concerned about Skypower’s current approach of giving products away for free, on a very large scale, to households who could otherwise be paying customers of solar lighting. In the collective experience of the industry, such schemes (or even the announcement of them) entail great risks for market sustainability. They signal to consumers that they do not have to pay for their products, deterring entrepreneurs and investors. There are other ways, instead of donating products, in which Skypower could contribute to energy access more effectively while still leaving the market intact. This includes for example using the funds to provide end-user credit. GOGLA therefore urges Skypower to work with, and not against the market as it develop its off-grid electrification activities. To encourage an open dialogue on how to achieve this, GOGLA invites Skypower to clarify its plans in a public statement jointly with GOGLA, and is also offering Skypower a stage to discuss the give-away programs with industry stakeholders at the upcoming 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference.

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