One Year On: Paying for Darkness

Strengthening Solar Markets for Refugees in Uganda

A person standing in a barber shop while customers wait to get their hair cut.
February 26, 2021

Download the full report ▸

In June 2019, Mercy Corps conducted a market systems analysis in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement (Uganda) to identify the key barriers to Off-Grid Solar (OGS) and PAYGo products reaching refugee and host consumer markets, which were detailed in the Paying for Darkness report. From November 2019 to July 2020, Mercy Corps implemented activities addressing five identified market constraints.

This paper summarizes the outputs of a short evaluation undertaken in early 2020 to assess the intervention’s impact, and extract learning for future interventions. The evaluation comprised of key informant interviews with program field teams, sales agents, community leaders and 184 community members. 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 program targets, demonstrating that a market systems approach to strengthen access to solar energy products could be successful, even in remote and underserved refugee markets.