Diffusion of solar PV in East Africa: What can be learned from private sector delivery models?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) will play the leading role in addressing off‐grid electricity access; it can be applied almost anywhere and used in a wide range of applications for households, businesses, institutions and communities. However, to fully exploit this opportunity, off‐grid markets that need these solutions need to be effectively penetrated. This article focuses on delivery models for off‐grid solar PV solutions and how they address barriers such as awareness, acceptance, access and affordability. It is based on a survey of 13 solar PV businesses in East Africa, supported by the Energy and Environment Partnership Programme1 and implementing the following delivery models: Retail, Pay‐As‐You‐Go (PAYG), Consumer financing, Mini‐grid and Fee‐for‐service. The survey is complemented by supporting literature and incorporates experiences from a University of Oslo research project on a village scale energy access model in Kenya and case studies of solar PV mini‐grids in Senegal and India. Experiences from implementation of the different models are analyzed and generic descriptions provided. The models are compared to illustrate their suitability and effectiveness for delivering different levels of energy access. Retail and PAYG models are identified as effective at reaching scale, while the mini‐grid and fee‐for‐service models demonstrate good potential to affordably and sustainably deliver a wider range of electricity access. The limitations of conventional rural electrification strategies are also discussed and the potential to incorporate some delivery models into electrification programs assessed.