The Government of Burkina Faso is making strides in expanding the distribution network of the electric grid to rural areas as well as improving the local capacity. At the same time, the Government recognizes off-grid products as a viable, quicker alternative to providing modern lighting and energy services to the population – especially for those living in rural areas. As such, the 2013 budget law introduced a cut to the import tax and VAT for the importation and sale of solar energy products.
Growing market momentum
The momentum of the off-grid solar lighting and energy market in Burkina Faso has been steadily growing over the past decade. In 2009 the “Une lampe pour l’Afrique” project aimed at distributing solar lamps among schools was launched by the Taiwanese Development Cooperation. Lighting Africa then conducted a market assessment study in 2013 that mapped existing supply chains and distribution models for solar lighting products, as well as a study that analyzed willingness to pay for these products.
Our 2013 studies found challenges related to the large scale distribution of off-grid solar products in Burkina Faso, particularly to the most rural areas. In addition, a lack of awareness of the benefits of solar lamps was found to be prevalent, as were difficulties in accessing the finance to pay for solar products – particularly for products of better quality.
We set out to determine the best way to address these challenges, including carrying out local consultations. We are now preparing a $1.5 million Lighting Africa sub-component of a $50mil World Bank Electricity Sector Support Project, which will be dedicated wholly to decentralized energy access.
As part of this component, partnerships with local distributors have been established, and preparations are underway to carry out a lantern library initiative at rural schools. A consumer education campaign focused on energy efficiency and off-grid solar lamps meeting Lighting Global standards is also being prepared in collaboration with the Government of Burkina Faso.