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The Rise of Solar: Market Evolution of Off-Grid Lighting in Three Kenyan Towns

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Nick Turman-Bryant, Peter Alstone, Dimitry Gershenson, Daniel M. Kammen, Arne Jacobson
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For the six years, researchers affiliated with Lighting Africa visited Kericho, Brooke and Talek in Kenya to observe trends in the off-grid lighting market. Their initial market survey, which began in 2009, provides a baseline for the types of off-grid lighting products that were available in an urban, a peri-urban and an off-grid market. The researchers returned in 2012 and 2014 to survey all three towns again and observe shifts in lighting technologies and power sources, product sales and revenues, and retailer demographics. The resulting longitudinal data set provides insights into an African off-grid lighting market undergoing rapid transitions—from incandescent to LED lighting, from dry-cell batteries and grid-charging to solar power, and from cheap, plastic torches to quality-verified lighting systems with warranties. The authors found that these three markets underwent dramatic changes over the six years, and they suggest these markets offer lessons to be learned for other maturing markets and future opportunities as the Kenya market continues to develop.