The solar energy access in Kenya: a review focusing on Pay-As-You-Go solar home system


Only a third of the people living in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity. While the benefits of electricity services for the society continue to increase, solar home system (SHS) provides a long-term rural electrification and development solution. SHS is thought out to be a robust and cost-effective option for supplying basic electrification under Kenya’s metrological conditions. This paper begins with an in-depth justification of the need for SHS in rural areas, and then it presents an overview of SHS financing, benefits and barriers, followed by a crucial component of existing SHSs in Kenya, Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) technology. It ends with succinct analysis of the payment models highlighting the benefits, challenges and methods adopted in overcoming those challenges. Lessons from this review suggest that solar firms face a myriad of challenges operating in poor rural areas in Kenya; credit risk is a major concern for solar firms as well as financiers which makes payment models notably challenging. Technical performance of SHS is becoming well proven, and end users desire a wide range of component preferences and service levels that are of benefit. The challenges faced by solar firms using different payment models show that there is a dire need for integration of SHS with rural electrification policy in Kenya. The principal conclusion is that PAYG model offers the best option for SHS dissemination, though energy-as-a-service implementation has a great potential of improving the dissemination process in rural communities as it offers a promising mechanisms from a sustainability point of view.

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The authors would like to thank the staffs of Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) for their valuable discussions during the preparations of this manuscript.

The authors are grateful for the financial support of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 201706050) and National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFB0605101).

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Adwek, G., Boxiong, S., Ndolo, P.O. et al. The solar energy access in Kenya: a review focusing on Pay-As-You-Go solar home system. Environ Dev Sustain 22, 3897–3938 (2020).

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  • Kenya
  • Energy poverty
  • Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG)
  • Energy–as-a-service
  • Rent-to-own
  • Poor local communities