The off-grid lighting and household electrification sector will help light up close to 100 million homes by 2020, according to market trends presented at the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference, organized by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) and the World Bank Group (WBG), in Dubai, UAE last week.
The event showcased global efforts to improve energy access for those without reliable, grid-based electricity by promoting clean, quality off-grid lighting solutions. To date, the industry has helped customers save around $3 billion in outgoings such as kerosene and batteries, according to WBG and GOGLA-collected data presented at the event. Since the first conference in Ghana in 2008, when the industry was just taking off, more than 15 million solar lighting and electrification products have been sold, reaching 66 million people.
Findings from a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, due for release in January 2016, also highlight how investors have taken note and pumped almost a quarter of a billion dollars into the sector in the past two years alone, with emerging pay-as-you-go business models gaining particular traction.
In just the last week, five GOGLA member companies announced newly raised investments at a combined total of $59 million, which will be used to provide new lighting solutions for hundreds of thousands. Koen Peters, Executive Director of GOGLA noted: “This was the first year the conference was held outside of Africa, signifying that the industry is coming of age. By building key partnerships, securing the right financing, the right policies, and ensuring product quality, I am confident we can deliver access to basic electricity to the 1.3 billion people who currently live without it.”
Russell Sturm, Global Head of IFC’s Energy Access and WBG’s Lighting Global program said: “The World Bank Group played a key role in identifying this new market, working with the private sector to develop it, and is now enabling its scale-up as commercial investors come to the table. The impact of this sector will undoubtedly be transformational.”
The conference was attended by around 500 key players from around the world, including investors, entrepreneurs, government representatives, and technology leaders. Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus delivered the keynote address via video link, highlighting the role of social business models in delivering energy access at scale.
Grant Shapps, UK Minister of State for International Development, stressed that the time to invest in off-grid solar lighting is now, as the industry is maturing to become a vibrant commercial market. He added that such investments will have an enormous impact on development.