Lighting Africa recently released a study of the market for off-grid lighting that was completed by me and several collaborators between 2009 and 2012. We originally visited Kericho, Brooke, and Talek in 2009 and surveyed the market for off-grid lighting. It wasn't a pretty sight...mostly low quality products were available. These beat the traditional flashlights and kerosene but didn't provide nearly the performance or value of better quality alternatives. Fast forward three years, and in 2012 there has been substantial growth in the availability of good-quality products in these towns.
This study provides a micro-view of what is happening across Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a complicated mix of relatively low-quality LED flashlights becoming a big force in the market and fast growth of good quality products as well. Where we only saw 1 or 2 good quality solar products available in 2009, now they account for fully 30% of the market on a spending basis. This is a big shift.
Good quality solar products are sharing the market with a big, ever-changing set of lower quality LED flashlights and other forms. We estimate that there were about 1.5 LED flashlights sold per person in the town of Kericho last year! In another post on LuminaNET, I hope you can help us make an estimate of the global scope for this segment of the off-grid market...