As one of the poorest countries in the world, end-users in Niger largely lack the funds to purchase solar products. Lighting Africa has been working to address barriers on the supply-side so as to increase access and affordability to consumers. Until recently high import taxes drove up the costs to end-users, while poor-quality products dominated the market undermining consumer confidence.
An important step towards affordability
We successfully worked with the Niger Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Finances to exempt taxes on imports of solar and other renewable energy products and their components, which went into effect in September 2017. The waiver of these taxes will increase affordability for distributors to hold stock, and significantly lower the purchase cost to end-users.
Lighting Africa works in Niger through two World Bank-sponsored Energy Access Projects: the Niger Solar Electricity Project (NESAP), and the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP).
Under NESAP, Lighting Africa has carried out a market intelligence study to gather information on the current status of energy access in Niger and the potential market for off-grid solar. Finding lack of access to finance to be the key bottleneck in kick-starting the market, an US$ 7 million line of credit will be developed to provide financing to banks and MFIs to on-lend to companies in this field. At the same time technical assistance (TA) will be supplied to the financial institutions to learn about the products and the importance of quality.
The Centre National d’Energie Solaire (CNES) will support these activities by providing TA to build the capacity of private companies through an incubator. (CNES) will also carry-out national communication and sensitization campaigns targeted towards Financial Institutions (FIs), government entities, and end-users, to highlight the significant benefits derived from off-grid solar solutions. Awareness of these benefits will support and and help to maximize the cost reductions and financing opportunities that our activities will bring.
Niger is one of two pilot countries under the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP), and will serve to identify suitable and sustainable mechanisms to electrify public institutions. ROGEP will aim to increase electricity access to households, businesses, and communities through modern off-grid electrification in the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo) as well as Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, and Mauritania.
Lighting Africa will support ROGEP by working with both the national governments and the private sector to make quality-verified off-grid solar lighting and energy products more readily available in West Africa. We will work closely with the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), ROGEP’s implementing agency, to draw new actors to the market, and support existing players in growing their sales.
You can read more about ROGEP here.