Case study

One year on: paying for darkness

Strengthening solar markets for refugees in Uganda

In June 2019, Mercy Corps conducted a market systems analysis in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda to identify the key barriers to off-grid solar (OGS) units and Pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) products reaching refugee and host consumer markets, which were detailed in their Paying for Darkness report.

From November 2019 to July 2020, Mercy Corps implemented activities addressing five identified market constraints:

  1. Product appropriateness and availability
  2. Demand perception
  3. Market linkages and infrastructure
  4. Appropriate finance
  5. Quality assurance and trust

This paper summarises the outputs of a short evaluation undertaken in early 2020 to assess the intervention’s impact. An analysis of sales and repayment data from OGS and PAYGo suppliers involved in piloting new models for financing and distribution of products in the Bidi Bidi area was also conducted.

Initial sales data vastly outperformed initial programme targets, demonstrating that a market systems approach to strengthen access to solar energy products could be successful, even in remote and underserved refugee markets.