Solar brings economic boost to East African households

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Solar brings economic boost to East African households

  • New report from GOGLA, the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry, shows 58% of households with off-grid solar systems undertake more work and enterprise thanks to clean, affordable, electricity.
  • 36% of households now make an average additional $35 per month, more than 50% of monthly GDP per capita.
  • 44% report spending more time working with new light making previously dark hours productive.


July 16th, 2018:  Households using small scale-solar power in East Africa are reporting a rise in economic activity, with an improvement in income and job opportunities, according to a new report from GOGLA, the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry. The report, ‘Powering Opportunity: The Economic Impact of Off-grid Solar’ provides data demonstrating the economic benefits of off-grid solar power in the developing world. The findings show that nearly 60% of off-grid solar owners undertake more work and enterprise within just three months of using a solar home system.

The research, funded by The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and conducted by Altai Consulting, was based on data collected from over 2,300 small-scale Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar owners in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in Spring 2018.1

With more power for enterprise such as retail and entertainment together with increased working hours, over a third of respondents reported an average income increase of $35 a month, more than half the average monthly GDP per capita of the countries surveyed.2 Over 10% have started a new business, and 7% report getting a new job. Providing electricity at home, solar has also unlocked more time for economic activities, with many customers (44%) reporting that they are using previously dark and unproductive hours to work. Furthermore over 90% of households replacing toxic kerosene lamps, used by millions in the developing world, claim both improved health and feelings of safety.

GOGLA’s impact report comes as global leaders gather to discuss how to meet the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) at the UN’s High Level Political Forum in New York (8-18th July). With the focus on “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”, the group is seeking insight on how to meet SDG’s including SD7 ‘Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030’.

Koen Peters, Executive Director of GOGLA said:

“GOGLA’s new report shows that the net economic and social benefits off-grid solar are a huge opportunity for national governments of the developing world. Governments tell us they are interested in jobs and economic impact. As this report shows, off-grid solar is directly delivering such impacts and significantly. We call on policy makers, treasury and energy departments to work together with off-grid companies, banks and institutions to breakdown barriers to off-grid solar and build a pathway to accelerate energy access.”

Currently, 1 billion people across Africa and Asia, about one in seven people on earth, have no access to electricity.3 With falling prices, increased efficiency and financial innovation, such as pay-as-you-go consumer finance, over 120 million people have now shifted from toxic kerosene lamps, candles and diesel generators to clean off-grid solar electricity since 2010.4

Additional findings of ‘Powering Opportunity: The Economic Impact of Off-grid Solar’ show that, for many households, extra light and abandonment of kerosene has seen life improve both because children have more time to study and they feel safe at night. Solar electricity has also meant access to previously unobtainable products and services, such as televisions and phone charging opening up opportunities for work and leisure. The vast majority (94%) report an improvement in quality of life with solar.

The full report is available at

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Notes to Editors:

  1. This research was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and managed by GOGLA. Data collection and analysis was led by Altai Consulting and supported by Sagaci Research. Research sample of 2,343 customers of the following off-grid solar companies: BBOXX, d.light, Fenix International, M-KOPA, Mobisol, Solar Works and ZOLA Electric (previously known as Off Grid Electric). Baseline data was collected by companies when customers purchased their solar home systems (October - December 2017), with a follow up interview conducted by Sagaci Research three months later (January - March 2018). The size of solar home systems purchased by customers interviewed for this research ranged from 8Wp to 200Wp.
  2. Average GDP per capital in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda (World Bank, 2017).
  3. 1 billion people have no access to electricity (World Bank, 2014).
  4. Since 2010 off-grid solar lanterns and household systems sold by GOGLA Members and IFC Associate companies have enabled over 120 million people to benefit from improved energy access (Lighting Global/GOGLA, 2018).
  5. US$ 5.7 billion investment is needed to unlock the full potential of the off-grid solar market (Lighting Global/GOGLA, 2018).
  6. ‘Powering Opportunity: The Economic Impact of Off-grid Solar’ (GOGLA, 2018) is available for download:


GOGLA is the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry. Established in 2012, GOGLA now represents over 130 members as a neutral, independent, not-for-profit industry association. Its mission is to help its members build sustainable markets, delivering quality, affordable products and services to as many households, businesses and communities as possible across the developing world. The products and solutions that GOGLA members sell transform lives. They improve health and education, create jobs and income opportunities and help consumers save money. To find out more go to

About the UK Department for International Development

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. It is tackling the global challenges of our time including poverty and disease, mass migration, insecurity and conflict. Its work is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK too. For more information go to:

About Altai Consulting

Altai Consulting provides strategy consulting & research services to private companies, governments and public institutions in developing countries. Their team operates in over 50 developing countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. To find out more go to:

Altai Consulting

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