For African rural households who get access to electricity via solar power for the first time, it can be a life-changing experience. What, if any, are the affects? If they have extra income, what do they spend it on?
We’ve read a few studies recently that gave us some answers.
Last week GOGLA released a report entitled, Powering Opportunity, The Economic Impact of Off-Grid Solar. The study compiled the economic effects of home solar systems after three months of ownership. 2,300 off-grid solar users were surveyed from Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. 45% of respondents were rural, 35% were peri-urban and 20% lived in urban areas. Companies contributing to the study included BBOXX, Mobisol, d.light, fenix, M-KOPA, Zola (Off-Grid Electric) and Solarworks.
As noted in the infographic, some key takeaways from the report include:
- Household incomes rose by a third after only 3 months of use
- 58% of households experienced an increase in economic activity
- 66% of households had more money available to spend
- Increased spending from extra income went first to education (school fees) and then to food
- 84% of households surveyed said their children had more time to do homework
These findings strongly correlate to earlier work included in Turning on the Lights, Transcending Energy Poverty Through the Power of Women Entrepreneurs, by the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. In that study, respondents were exclusively Solar Sister customers from 20 villages in Tanzania.
Some key takeaways from the Miller report included:
- 62% of households experienced increases in economic activity
- 38% were from existing businesses, 24% were from new businesses
- Increased spending went first to food and water (54% of the time), followed by education (31%)
- 88.3% of children used solar lighting to improve their education
Access to electricity introduces opportunities for overall financial growth that are invested back into families. Access unlocks more time for work, boosts enterprises, and enables educational opportunity.
Or, as the authors of the GOGLA study so aptly put it, “[S]olar has the ability to lift millions out of darkness, [and] this research shows it can play another vital role: powering opportunity.”