Off-grid solar electric power is a promising technology for remote regions in rural Africa where expansion of the electricity grids is prohibitively expensive. Using household data from a target region of an off-grid solar promotion program in the Kénédougou province in Burkina Faso, this paper explores the role of quality-verified branded solar home systems (SHS) versus non-branded ones. We find that the adoption rate of non-branded SHS is considerably higher at 36% compared to 8% for branded SHS. We compare potential quality differences as well as the cost-effectiveness of branded and non-branded solar products. We show that non-branded SHSs offer a similar service level as branded solar, that they do not fall behind in terms of consumer satisfaction and durability, and that non-branded products are more cost-effective. These findings suggest that promotion programs and branded solar products do not seem to be necessary in Burkina Faso and might also not be needed to establish sustainable off-grid solar markets elsewhere provided that non-branded products are available. The challenge however is to reach the very poor who are unable to bring up investment costs for any electricity.

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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Bensch, G., Grimm, M., Huppertz, M., Langbein, J. (Jörg), & Peters, J. (2017). Are promotion programs needed to establish off-grid solar energy markets?. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2017.11.003