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Kenya tops global uptake of solar lanterns with Sh4bn orders




Kenya is sub-Saharan Africa’s top market for the off-grid power products. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyans ordered Sh4 billion worth of solar kits in the first six months of 2018, becoming sub-Saharan Africa’s top market for the off-grid power products.

Some 300,557 of the kits, mostly lanterns, worth Sh500 million were bought in cash while the remaining ones valued at Sh3.5 billion were ordered on credit via firms like M-Kopa, shows data produced by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) and Lighting Global. Overall, Kenya accounted for 10.3 per cent of solar devices bought in cash and 30.1 per cent on credit globally.

“The off-grid sector in Kenya continues to see expansion to new regions across the country with new markets seeing strong growth,” says the global off-grid solar market report.

Using the pay-as-you-go model popularised by mobile money transfer services, M-Kopa Solar has, for instance, allowed many rural households to stagger payment for solar energy products.

The firm typically instals a solar panel with two low-energy LED light bulbs, a rechargeable torch and a rechargeable radio.

Out of the 46 countries surveyed, Kenya tops the solar devices uptake list via credit but falls second to India in cash purchases.

Indians ordered 1.3 million solar products valued at Sh3.7 billion, accounting for 44 per cent of the cash sales globally. In contrast, the Asian country ordered only 39,253 units or 5.41 per cent of global credit sales through pay as you go platforms.

In total, 3.7 million off-grid solar products were sold globally during the first half of 2018, a modest increase of four per cent compared to the same period in 2017.