Household solar products offer the best potential for rapidly increasing access to modern energy services in households living off the electricity grid in the world. Technological advances bringing increased quality and lower prices, coupled with business innovation has enabled a boom in the household solar industry - 7.5 million quality-verified solar lights have been sold in Africa. The products provide bright light and mobile phone charging, and the cheapest are now available for just $8.
Alternative methods of lighting such as kerosene, candles and torches provide low-quality light and are damaging to health, are dangerous, and actually more expensive than modern electric lighting. However modern products are yet to gain a significant market share in Malawi. Furthermore, relatively little is known about off-grid consumers lighting and phone charging habits.
A study was therefore needed to understand the household off-grid lighting penetration, usage, behaviour and attitudes to stimulate conversation that would lead to the development of the household solar lighting sector in the country. The specific objectives of the study were to:
Raise the profile of the off-grid market amongst key stakeholders (private sector, government, financial service providers, media, solar lighting businesses)
Highlight the opportunity for private sector growth in the off-grid lighting and charging market
Encourage further private sector investment through improving the understanding of consumers
This study explores key consumer insights:
What are the prevalent lighting technologies and how they are used.
Lighting and phone charging habits and expenditure
Awareness and perceptions of household solar products
A nationally representative survey covering 7 districts randomly selected from Northern, Central and South regions was carried out. Data was collected face to face, in-home using computer assisted personal interviews (CAPI) method of data collection. The questionnaire was structured and programmed onto hand-held devices.
The sample was purposive, off-grid, constituting n=513 respondents/households. Households and respondents were randomly selected. Individuals with a grid connection were excluded in the sample.
The respondent was either head of the household, spouse, or any other adult member.
The survey was conducted in February and March 2016.
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