Off-grid solar energy consumption has been on the rise lately in Kenya and East Africa. According to a report by GOGLA (Global Off-Grid Lighting Association), close to 30 million people in East Africa are currently connected to off-grid solar power systems.
The research, conducted by Altai Consulting, was done by collecting data from homeowners with Small Solar Home Systems (SHS) in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
An overwhelming majority (94%) of people living with the off-grid solar home systems reported improvements to their quality of life. About 34% of the correspondents also reported being economically active mainly through an increase in working hours per day or through the starting of new businesses and other entrepreneurial opportunities. This has led to, on average, an increase of $46 per month in income.
Furthermore, the research highlights that a significant 59% of households with the SHS earn less than $3.20 per day. Therefore showing that the SHS are reaching those who are most in need; the low-income households not connected to the main electricity grids.
Mobile money drives uptake of SHS
Some of the companies that supply these off-grid systems include M-Kopa, BBOXX, Fenix, d.light and Mobisol. These suppliers have established very flexible payment plans that have enabled off-grid systems become a reality to these rural homesteads.
Moreover, the prevalence of mobile money has enabled households to easily pay for solar products in what is now referred to as the Pay-As-You-Go model.
Nonetheless, questions remain on the quality of the SHS packages where they have been reported to have lower shelf life towards the end of the payment period. The payments usually take up to 2 years.