Consistent, reliable energy is essential to escape poverty and improve well-being, yet two out of three people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to modern energy services. In rural Uganda, the electricity access rate is only 8%, inclusive of social institutions such as schools and health centers, resulting in poor service delivery, decreased productivity, and stifled economic growth. The rise of off-grid solar energy solutions – solar home systems, micro-grids, mini-grids – and new business models, such as pay-as-you-go, can drastically reduce the energy gap. As a result, public donor agencies and investors have prioritised and accelerated these efforts, seeing the potential to merge social impact and returns on investment.
In spite of the innovation and enthusiasm, progress has been slow. Given the complexity of serving the base of the pyramid, off-grid energy service providers need relevant tools, training, and capital. Insight into market demand, stronger last mile distribution, and affordable financing can all help unlock scale. The challenge: How might we scale off-grid energy solutions through public and private coordination?