OGEF funds comprehensive off-grid energy impact assessment, Why Off-Grid Energy Matters 2024

Why Off-Grid Energy Matters 2024, conducted by 60Decibels, a leading social impact measurement company, is the world’s most comprehensive impact assessment of the off-grid sector to date. Findings are based on the lived experiences of 79,000+ off-grid energy customers who use devices ranging from solar lanterns to solar-powered irrigation pumps (see report below).

Cygnum Capital, through the Off-Grid Energy Fund and its investors the African Development Bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), the Nordic Development Fund, All-On, the European Commission, Calvert Impact, Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank (OeEB) and Prudential is proud to have funded Why Off-Grid Energy Matters 2024, which launched at the Transforming Energy Access (TEA) Forum in Kigali.

Why Off-Grid Energy Matters 2024 offers deep, bottom-up analysis of the impact of energy access to enable organisations and investors alike to bridge the energy divide and support the promise of no-one left behind.

In today's world, access to energy is a cornerstone of development and well-being. This new report measures the comparative social performance of renewable off-grid energy solutions in bridging the global energy divide. With over 1 million units of solar energy kits sold in the first half of 2023 alone, the momentum for off-grid products and services is undeniable. Yet, the challenge remains vast, with hundreds of millions expected to remain unelectrified by 2030. This report is a call to action, providing critical insights and data to bolster sustained and inclusive growth in the off-grid energy sector. Focused on the voices of users themselves.

Why Off-Grid Energy Matters 2024 shines a light on the critical role of off-grid energy in achieving sustainable development goals, and we are thrilled to have helped fund this ground breaking research. The insights gained through candid conversations with almost 80,000 customers underscore the necessity of focusing on locally-owned and women-led enterprises, which have shown remarkable success in delivering energy solutions with profound social impact.

Key Findings

The off-grid energy sector is making a huge difference for populations around the globe. A transformative effect is experienced by over half of all customers – with the quality of their and their families’ lives improving significantly as a result of this access. For nine in ten overall, lives have improved. The sector continues to reach previously unserved populations with life-changing energy products and services. Three-quarters of customers report that this was their first time having access to the product category from which they purchased.

More specifically, three findings stood out:

  1. Locally-owned organisations have higher impact, female reach, poverty reach, ease of use, and satisfaction rates than their peers. Women-led enterprises boast greater impact and female reach, and lower customer over-indebtedness rates and challenge rates. Women-led and/or locally-owned companies are woefully underrepresented in the flows of capital being invested in the off-grid energy sector, but this is a missed opportunity for positive impact.
  1. A third of customers experience challenges using their energy product or service. When this happens, customers and their families can’t unlock the many benefits of improved energy access. Overall, the off-grid energy sector performs well globally regarding customer satisfaction, with a Net Promoter Score® (NPS) of 43. The NPS of customers who face no challenges is 56, while the NPS for those with unresolved issues dramatically falls to 1. Improved design and customer     support can massively increase the impact of off-grid energy products on the people they serve.
  1. The industry is serving some of the most in need, but has a way to go. The off-grid sector’s Income Inclusivity Rate (IRR) is 0.81, meaning the     sector is serving slightly higher-income customers compared to national poverty rates. To compare with other sectors, the 60 Decibels Agriculture IRR is 0.64 and for Financial Inclusion it’s 0.58. For rural customers, who are three times more likely to live in poverty compared to their urban peers, the impact of their off-grid products is greater, and satisfaction is higher. Broken down by sub-sector, solar lanterns provide the most comprehensive energy access, generate the highest impact, and leave customers the most satisfied.

"This report represents us bringing together insights from our treasure trove of data over the years, all from customer voices – listening to tens of thousands of customers about their experiences. The insights we've collated not only illuminate the transformative impact of off-grid energy solutions, but also highlight the opportunities to maximise that impact to its full potential. This report is a call for all stakeholders in the energy ecosystem to leverage these insights for action. It's clear that our collective efforts can catalyse profound social change, driving us closer to a future where sustainable energy is a reality for all,” Kat Harrison, Director, 60 Decibels

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