Population Size: 44.4 million
Income Per Capita: USD 850
Electricity Access Rate: Urban 71%, Rural 8%
75% Kenyan homes use kerosene lamps
Lighting Africa Kenya program was launched in May 2008 and closed on 31 July 2013.
It had a dedicated program management team based in Kenya that provided a comprehensive market development set of activities across five components that included:-
- quality assurance
- market research
- consumer education
- business development support to the supply chain
- policy support
The market development activities have contributed towards making Kenya one of the most attractive solar markets in Africa.
- Energy Access: 3.4m people now use solar lighting, and less of the polluting, expensive kerosene
- Market Growth: Solar lantern market grown by more than 200% in the last 3 years. About 700,000 solar lanterns sold to off-grid families in rural Kenya
- Market Penetration: Use of solar lighting has increased fourfold from barely 2% in 2009 to about 8% in 2013
- Solar Awareness: More than 29m people in rural and peri-urban areas have been educated on solar lighting products and their benefits
- Vibrant Private Sector: 21 distributors/importers, and over 1500 SMEs sell solar lanterns in Kenya. There are currently with 29 quality verified solar lighting products, from 17 manufacturers, currently on sale in the country.
- Mitigating Market Spoilage: First product quality testing laboratory in Africa established at the University of Nairobi. Kenyan microfinance institutions (MFIs) have adopted the quality standards for off-grid lighting products and only finance quality-verified products that meet the Lighting Global Quality Standards.
Lighting Africa undertakes market research in response to the industry’s call for detailed information on the emergent off-grid lighting market opportunity. Prospective investors, manufacturers and distributors are constantly seeking insights into the market size, trends and financing opportunities, as well as supply chains, and consumer needs and preferences.
In Kenya, the program published baseline studies providing key consumer insights, as well as on the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the market. The off-grid market in three towns of the Rift Valley – Kericho, Kapkugerwet (Brooke) and Talek – have been extensively studied in the course of our work in Kenya. The Kenya program has also contributed tremendously to the flagship Lighting Africa Market Trends reports.
Our work in Kenya has also provided valuable market insights based on the prevalence of kerosene use, and its true cost in rural off-grid areas. Lighting Africa has also explored the availability of replacement product components such as batteries and the potential for developing after-sales maintenance for off-grid lighting products in Kenya and other countries.
Today, the Kenya is a vibrant, highly attractive market for off-grid lighting products where solar penetration is up fourfold, from barely two percent (2%) in 2009 to more than eight percent (8%). Year-on-year sales data, as reported by companies working with us, shows growth upwards of 140%.
Off-grid lighting is a nascent sector that has largely attracted new, small social enterprises, many of which do not have well developed distribution networks. These enterprises ventured into a little known market with the objective of making the sustainable energy for all by 2030 goal a reality using Lighting Africa’s market development approach.
In Kenya, Lighting Africa provided business development services to companies entering the market to help them develop and fine tune their business models, their sales and marketing strategies, and their product distribution networks.
These services include distributor outreach and B2B events linking manufacturers to distributors and bulk buyers, and providing regular tailored market intelligence and consumer insights. The program undertook research on the role of women both as consumers and potential distributors of solar lights, sharing the findings with off-grid lighting companies operating in Kenya.
It also accorded the companies opportunities to participate in off-grid conferences,exhibitions and trade fairs locally and internationally, as well as opportunities to participate in consumer awareness campaigns and product sales drives.
Lighting Africa also identified and trained technicians across Kenya on how to repair solar lights, and put them in touch with product manufacturers and distributors to provide after-sales maintenance support.
At the start of the Kenya program, Lighting Africa recognized the risk of market spoilage from poor quality LED products and the importance of quality assurance in building consumer confidence in the off-grid lighting market.
In 2008, the program began development of a framework for verifying quality of solar-powered off-grid lights entering the African market. This quality framework now serves as the international quality standard for solar off-grid lighting products and is used widely by governments, distributors and microfinance institutions as a guide for procuring and supporting quality-verified products.
Following the expansion to more countries, Lighting Global now manages the quality assurance framework and maintains the Quality Standards, a set of off-grid lighting benchmarks that set a baseline level of quality, durability, and truth-in-advertising to protect consumers.
Product testing is conducted by approved laboratories in the Lighting Global network, including the University of Nairobi Lighting Laboratory in Kenya.
Consumer awareness is central to Lighting Africa’s market development approach to increasing access to clean energy. Market studies found low consumer education to be a bottleneck to uptake of modern solar lighting products.
In Kenya, the first solar products introduced were large comparatively expensive home systems, which recorded high failure rates due to low technical knowhow for installation and maintenance. On the other end of the consumer spectrum, an influx of poor quality solar flashlights equally disappointed because of poor quality and low durability,products falling apart within two months of purchase.
To overcome these negative consumer experiences,Lighting Africa designed an experiential consumer education campaign to introduce the targeted low-income rural families to modern, affordable,high quality solar lights now available on the market.
The campaigns used road shows and forums, complemented by radio messaging to reach rural consumers, and acell phone short message service through which consumers would enquire about quality verified products.
The Kenya program occasionallyused TV programs such as the hit Makutano Junction, and ran a Christmas campaign targeting urban and peri-urban consumers with print and TV solar lighting product messages. The Kenyan award-winning campaign had by July 2013 reached 29.5 million Kenyans, and is recognized as a global best practice.