Impact of Micropayments and Solar Lighting
Approximately 1.3 billion people lack electricity, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for about 45% of that figure. In Uganda, roughly 85% of the population lacks electricity, with only 7% of rural households having access to the electrical grid. Moreover, even when a village has grid access, connecting a household can be prohibitively expensive. This presents a huge opportunity to expand clean, affordable, and safe lighting to a large segment of the Ugandan population through off-grid solutions.
Founded in 2007 as a for-profit social enterprise, d.light manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products designed to serve the more than 2 billion people globally without access to reliable electricity. In 2012, d.light received a Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) grant from USAID to design and pilot the first high-quality, upgradeable solar power system with an integrated pay-as-you-go consumer financing technology. d.light partnered with the asset financing company M-KOPA Solar to provide the innovative mobile payment technology and distribute the system in Uganda. The project expects to establish sustainable distribution beyond the grant period and measure the social impact of bringing clean, affordable lighting to off-grid communities.
IDinsight conducted the impact evaluation for d.light’s DIV grant. As the project is building first time distribution in a new, competitive market in Uganda, minimizing the operational burden of the study is key. IDinsight designed a matching study with difference in differences analysis with these considerations in mind, as a randomized controlled trial would have been too disruptive. The study measured the impact of the d.light solar home system on energy expenditure, productive hours, education, and health.
 International Energy Agency. (2013). Population without electricity [statistics]. Retrieved on March 12, 2014 from http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/resources/energydevelopment/energyaccessdatabase/