This research provides strong insights into how solar home systems are improving the lives of people living in low-income households. The data shows that the socio-economic impact of solar home systems on households remains consistently high over time.
Almost all customers (95%) would recommend their product to a friend or relative and a striking 94% report that their quality of life improved as they feel healthier (89%), safer (91%) or because their children have more time to study (86%). In addition, 64% of customers say they feel they have more money available since purchasing the SHS. The number of households reporting an economic impact from using the SHS is lower compared to three months after the purchase, hinting to a period of trial and error for certain customers. Overall, 34% of households report undertaking more economic activity since purchasing the SHS.
However, by digging deeper into the economic impacts of SHS, it was found that in most cases where a household is able to undertake more economic activity, more than one member of the household is doing so, earning additional income.
To more clearly demonstrate the impact of this increased economic activity, this research calculated the number of unlocked FTEs, based on the number of extra hours worked thanks to SHS ownership. Overall, the additional hours customers were able to work translate to a significant 21 FTE jobs created for every 100 solar home system used. In total, 52% of them are undertaken by women and 50% are in rural areas.
For many customers the system has proven to be a sustainable source of income generation, as 28% of all households report it helps them to generate additional income. This is especially true of customers using their product to create or enhance a business which highlights the potential of SHS to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The average additional monthly income reported by these households is $46.
These impacts are significant, especially seeing that 59% of households report earning less than $3.20 per day, indicating that SHS are reaching low-income households.
The findings in this report show that SHS have an untapped, transformative power. Off-grid solar is reaching low-income households in rural communities in East Africa, providing households with profound social and economic change. We hope that the Powering Opportunity series will help investors, decision-makers and those looking to support the industry to better understand how off-grid solar can impact the lives of households and can be a power tool for change.