Going the Distance: Off-Grid Lighting Market Dynamics in Papua New Guinea

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Access to sustainable and clean energy, even the ability to be able to have a simple light at night to read or study, can have a huge positive impact for those people in need. For a country like Papua New Guinea, which is undergoing economic and social transformation, the ability of its people and its businesses to access energy has been a challenge. Papua New Guinea has, in fact, one of the most acute energy access challenges in the world. Only 13 percent of the population of over eight million people are connected to the electricity grid. Yet, as this report shows, in just five years Papua New Guinea has achieved dramatic growth to become a leader among developing countries in the use of off-grid solar products.

It’s in this environment that IFC’s Lighting Papua New Guinea program has been able to demonstrate impact by developing a market for quality verified solar products. Six years ago, only two percent of the population used any type of solar product and relied on firewood, kerosene and other products, harmful to people and the environment. It was a time when cellphone penetration was growing rapidly, but the means to charge those phones was lagging. Now kerosene has been usurped, and there’s a prevalence of generic offerings, battery powered torches and lanterns, alongside quality-verified off-grid solar products – many with an ability to charge a phone.

The report’s findings reveal a dynamic market. It’s evident in the numbers – the market for lighting solutions in PNG is estimated at $259 million a year and is expected to grow over the next five years. The report’s focus on the demand and supply sides will help companies understand market potential, in-country challenges, and the opportunities for growth.

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