Assessing the opportunities and challenges facing the development of off-grid solar systems in Eastern Africa: The cases of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda

Mugisha J., Ratemo M. A., Keza B. C. B., Kahveci H.

ENERGY POLICY, vol.150, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 150
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.enpol.2020.112131
  • Journal Name: ENERGY POLICY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, PASCAL, ABI/INFORM, Aerospace Database, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, EconLit, Environment Index, Greenfile, Index Islamicus, INSPEC, PAIS International, Pollution Abstracts, Public Affairs Index, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Off-grid solar, East Africa, Energy policy, Rural electrification, Renewable energy, RURAL ELECTRIFICATION, MINI-GRIDS, ENERGY, ELECTRICITY, SCENARIOS, ACCESS, SECTOR, POWER, DETERMINANTS, POLICY
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


With the world's lowest electrification rate, Africa is repositioning to offer its citizens a brighter future. Global renewable energy agencies and international financing to expedite rural electrification fueled by off-grid solar systems are attracting worldwide attention. Currently, 770 million people lack access to electricity on the continent, and more than 60% live in poor rural areas where the national power grid is non-existent. The challenge herein is how to supply electricity to rural population, living on $1.5 a day, at a reasonable power tariff. Although there are opportunities for off-grid solar energy to keep growing in sub-Saharan countries, it is impossible to ignore particular challenges in these countries. This paper focuses on three sub-Saharan counties: Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. Rwanda, Kenya, and Ethiopia foster off-grid solar systems as the primary solution through rural electrification programs. This paper provides a comparative analysis of the electrification experiences of these countries in terms of sources of funding, the challenges and opportunities they have been experiencing as well as an analysis of policy implications. The results show that off-grid solar systems improve health, ICT, and micro-enterprises in rural areas. However, governments should generate more robust developmental schemes that provide income to rural people that pushes them above the poverty line and enables them to afford off-grid solar products.