Gogla, the global off-grid solar energy association, has released a report assessing the economic impact of off-grid solar systems in East Africa. The report collected data from about 2,300 households in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. More than half of the respondents said that economic activity has increased, many of them starting businesses or increasing household income. The report shows that the deployment of small self-contained solar systems in off-grid areas has had a positive economic impact.
The data shows that 58% of households have recently installed off-grid solar systems, and because of the power supply, they can increase their workload or develop their businesses more. 36% of households have an average monthly income increase of $35 – equivalent to 50% of a family’s monthly average GDP in this region. In addition, due to the power lighting, respondents indicated that they can spend more time on work or housework. This improvement has brought income to the family and increased the economic activity of the business owner. 11% of respondents reported that as the use of technologies such as smartphones continued to expand, they began a new business after the electrification of off-grid solar systems. In 7% of households, at least one family member received a new job due to the deployment of solar energy.
Kogla Peters, executive director of Gogla, said the report shows that the net economic benefits and net social benefits of off-grid solar energy are a huge opportunity for governments in developing countries. Government officials focus on employment and economic issues, and this report shows a direct and significant impact of off-grid solar on both. Gogla called on policymakers, the Treasury and the energy sector to work with off-grid companies, banks and institutions to break the barriers to off-grid solar energy and create a way to accelerate energy penetration.
The association emphasizes that there are currently 1.1 billion people in the world without electricity, most of them in Africa or Asia. Rural economic activities are the most affected.
In countries with generally low economic activity, the expansion of grid infrastructure is very expensive, which has a negative impact on energy pricing. However, due to the lack of electricity supply, profitable economic activities are difficult to start. To solve this problem, cheap off-grid solar systems have been deployed more and more since 2010.