Solar home systems have emerged as the most dynamic sector in the off-grid electricity industry.

JOHANNESBURG  - Solar home systems have emerged as the most dynamic sector in the off-grid electricity industry and will have a significant socio-economic impact by providing power to millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa, the organisers of an upcoming energy conference said on Tuesday.

The 11th Africa Energy Indaba will be held in Sandton, Johannesburg on February 19-20 and will focus on the role of off-grid and mini-grid in rural electrification on the continent, highlighting the significant growth potential of solar.

The total power derived from solar has officially outpaced any other fuel with regards to global energy output and the energy source is currently the frontrunner in renewables, with solar PV (photovoltaic) additions transcending all other fuels, including coal.

 A report conducted by The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted unrelenting solar PV growth up to 2022.

Solar PV is expected to represent the largest annual capacity additions for renewables, exceeding wind and hydro within the next five years. 

According to recent tracking of off-grid solar PV applications in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa conducted by the IEA, off-grid capacity is estimated to triple to over 3,000 MW in 2022 owing to solar home systems, industrial applications and mini-grids led by government electrification programmes and private sector investment.

"Being the sunniest region on the planet and with its vast natural resources, Africa is set to experience considerable socio-economic advancements," organisers of the Africa Energy Indaba said on Tuesday.

"The most dynamic sector in the off-grid segment is solar home systems which will consequently have a significant socio-economic impact on the continent by providing electricity to millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa."

The growth in solar PV is anticipated to bridge the electrification gap in Africa; a working example being Nigeria where Overseas Private Investment Corporation financing is supporting Lumos, an off-grid electricity provider, in launching its portable solar stations which connect to rooftop panels and include cell phone payment systems.

- African News Agency (ANA)