In Africa, 57% of adults have no bank accounts and are excluded from the financial system – a majority of whom are women. PayGo is a lifeline to the unbanked and unelectrified bottom of the pyramid households enabling them to get credit to access affordable and reliable energy to help improve their businesses and livelihoods.
Most solar companies have further enabled their customers to conveniently pay their installments through their phones, encouraging mobile money adoption and leading to a virtuous cycle of financial inclusion. For example, in Uganda, 16 percent of off-grid solar PayGo customers used mobile money for the first time to purchase their solar products.
The companies also include accessories such as bulbs, torches, mobile phones, and productive use technologies such as shavers, coolers, and irrigation pumps to improve their customers’ livelihoods further.
While evidence shows that the private sector can play a critical role in accelerating access and transitioning to clean renewable energy, it must be approached responsibly to protect consumers.
For this reason, GOGLA launched a Consumer Protection Code in 2019, sharing industry standards to which companies should adhere. This includes a focus on responsible sales and pricing, transparency, and fair and respectful treatment. So far, 76 leading off-grid companies and investors have signed up to the Code.
“Consumer Protection is at the heart of the PayGo model – what’s good for consumers is good for companies. A growing number of companies have made a commitment to the GOGLA Consumer Protection Code, and we know that PayGo products are making a demonstrable impact by bringing energy access and energy-adjacent services to off-grid communities – with more than 90% of customers reporting improved quality of life, ” says Rebecca Rhodes, Senior Project Manager Consumer Protection, GOGLA.
Access to finance is a key barrier to accelerating clean energy access in Africa. This calls for all actors in the renewable energy space – from governments, donors, the private sector, and civil society, to work together to unlock innovative technological and financial solutions. Policy reforms and regulations are needed to create conducive environments for such partnerships to flourish and light up and power Africa.