Africa: Off-Grid Solar Connects About 1 Billion People Globally

Solar panels on the roof of one of the buildings of the College of Engineering, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana (file photo).

Leading off-grid solar energy companies, governments, development partners, and investors this week agreed to further grow the off-grid solar market. The renewed commitment will accelerate progress towards universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy by 2030.

More than 1,250 participants from 75 countries attending this year's Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo (GOGSFE) in Nairobi called for more collaboration and investments to provide sustainable energy for the 840 million people currently living without electricity and an estimated 1 billion people who live with weak grid connections.

This year's event was co-hosted by the Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Energy and was officially opened by H.E. The President of the Republic of Kenya Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta.

In his keynote speech, President Kenyatta said his government's off-grid solar access initiative, the Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP), which is carried out with support from the World Bank, seeks to provide energy to underserved households and more than 800 public facilities, including schools and health centers, in 14 counties. "To achieve our electrification programme through off-grid solutions, my administration recognizes the importance of partnering with the private sector", the President continued.

GOGLA's Executive Director Koen Peters said: "It was a privilege to listen to President Kenyatta's inspiring speech, encouraging other countries to follow Kenya's lead in adopting the right policies to scale the off-grid solar market. The massive turnout of this year's Forum is a testament to the impressive growth of the sector. The new partnerships and deals forged this week will help the industry reach millions of additional households."

Over 85 exhibitors showcased their products and services at the event, highlighting off-grid solar as a power tool to reduce CO2 emissions, improve health and education, create jobs and income opportunities, helping consumers save money and improving their quality of life.

The conference dialogue was built around the findings of the 2020 Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report1, released at the outset of the meeting. A joint Lighting Global-GOGLA initiative, the report finds that the industry has grown to a USD 1.75 billion market, currently serving 420 million customers.

"It is exciting to see the power of entrepreneurial innovation that has driven these accomplishments," said Russell Sturm, Energy Access Lead for the International Finance Corporation, and one of the lead authors of the report. "With 12 years of experience supporting the market's rapid ascent, our Lighting Global team will continue working toward the growth of the off-grid solar industry, as we mobilize the commercial finance critical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7) for universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030," he noted.

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