For the past six years researchers affiliated with Lighting Africa have been visiting the towns of Kericho, Brooke, and Talek in Kenya to observe trends in the off-grid lighting market. Starting in 2009, the initial market survey provided a baseline for the types of off-grid lighting products that were available in an urban, a peri-urban, and an off-grid market. The team returned in 2012 and 2014 to survey all three towns again and observe shifts in lighting technologies and power sources, product sales and revenues, and retailer demographics.
Key findings (excerpt)
There has been massive growth in off-grid lighting sector. From 2012 to 2014, the number of off-grid lighting products sold in the three towns almost doubled (77% increase from 2012 to 2014), and the estimated monthly revenue from off-grid lighting products more than quadrupled (from US$32,000 in 2012 to over US$180,000 in 2014).
Solar has become the predominant power source. Solar lighting products were the main drivers of growth in the off-grid lighting sector over the study period.
Quality-verified product sales and revenue grew. Quality-verified products represented 1% of products sold and 18% of product revenue in 2012; this jumped to 15% of products sold and 30% of product revenue by 2014. Of all the available solar products available in 2014, 56% were quality-verified.
More mobile-charging devices: Devices that were able to charge mobile phones – typically with a USB port or an adaptor compatible with a variety of mobile phone sockets – represented about 10% of the products available in the market, 15% of all product sales, and 53% of all product revenue.
Consolidation of brand in off-grid lighting: Over two thirds of product revenues were garnered by the top five brands in 2014, compared to just 20% of product revenue in 2012.
Growth of a look-alike market: With the consolidation of brand has followed a growth in solar product look-alikes, perhaps indicating a need to penetrate further down the supply chain with information about product quality and performance for manufacturers and end-users.
LED lighting technology ascendant: LEDs have almost completely replaced incandescent and fluorescent lighting products, with 99% of products being lit by LEDs.
Diversification of product form factor: The torch form factor, which was ubiquitous in 2009 and 2012, was edged out by ambient lights, task lamps, and solar home systems in 2014. Ambient room lighting form factors represented 3% of available products in 2009, but that increased to 35% of available products by 2014. At the same time, the percentage of products that were torches decreased significantly from 95% in 2009 to 52% in 2014.
Significant increase in product warranties and retail financing: The number of retailers offering warranties for their products increased from 3% in 2009 to 37% in 2014.
Widespread use of mobile phones and services: One hundred percent of off-grid lighting retail vendors had mobile phones in 2014, with a third using more than one mobile phone.
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