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How Can TVs Improve Peoples' Lives?

21 February 2014

Throughout the developing world, in places like Haiti, Bangladesh, and Sub-Saharan Africa, 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity and another billion get less than four hours of reliable electricity each day. These people are typically among the world's poorest and most vulnerable, as energy poverty dramatically reduces educational, economic, and health outcomes. The fuels available to off-grid households and businesses – for example kerosene, diesel, and biomass – are typically expensive, dangerous, and dirty, and so often make things worse.

Perhaps surprisingly, modern consumer technologies like mobile phones and televisions are proving to be a driving force in delivering clean, reliable electricity to off-grid populations. Demand for modern consumer electronics is extremely high throughout the developing world—and pre-modern fuels like kerosene simply can't power them. Because they require electricity, mobile phones, televisions and other appliances create and sustain demand for off-grid electric power systems like small-scale solar photovoltaic home systems.

Significant Market Opportunity... For the Right Products

The four billion people worldwide who make less $1,500 USD/year are often referred to as the Base of the Economic Pyramid (BOP). Recent studies estimate that the BOP is a $5trillion USD/year consumer market—and, just like the rest of us, these people want modern consumer electronics. As technology prices fall, credit markets emerge, and developing world incomes rise, companies meeting this demand are positioned to dominate major growth markets.

But simply manufacturing and marketing products isn't enough. Because off-grid households and businesses are typically extremely poor, purchasing a power system and the appliances that accompany it is a major financial commitment. If the products don't deliver as promised, or fail, or disappoint, the customer's bad experience quickly gets spread by word of mouth and the market for that product, and similar products, is spoiled. Product quality is, therefore, essential to the market's development.

Energy efficiency is also essential in BOP markets. Because they use less electricity, super-efficient appliances need smaller – and more affordable – power systems to operate.

The dynamic of creating demand for power systems, and requiring smaller power systems, means that high-quality, super-efficient off-grid appliances are an extremely powerful energy access tool. Initiatives like the United Nations' Sustainable Energy for All campaign, which targets universal energy access by 2030, the International Finance Corporation's Lighting Global program, and the Clean Energy Ministerial's Global LEAP Awards are coordinating to support global markets for quality-assured, energy-efficient energy access products. These efforts are priming major opportunities to manufacturers and distributors, and transforming the lives of people throughout the developing world.

So What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Product developers, manufacturers, and distributors should investigate – and invest in – the off-grid BOP market. There are hundreds of millions of customers out there just waiting for the right product—companies delivering those products will be big players in a massive, dynamic, growing market, and they'll help some of the world's most desperate and vulnerable people radically improve their lives.

The Global LEAP Awards

If you already make high-quality, energy-efficient appliances, I'd ask that you check out the Global LEAP Awards, which will identify the world's best low-voltage DC appliances and then promoting them to the off-grid market.

The Global LEAP Awards LED lighting competition has already closed—but nominations for the Global LEAP Awards TV competition are open through 17 January 2014.

Global LEAP Awards Winners and Finalists will benefit from a global publicity campaign and business opportunities with leading off-grid retailers like SELCO, Orb Energy, and Rahimafrooz. Nominating eligible TVs for the Global LEAP Awards is fast, easy, and free—no product samples or testing fees are required unless your product is identified as a Finalist.


Matt Jordan is a Program Manager at CLASP, and is responsible for CLASP's off-grid products portfolio. This includes management of the Global LEAP Awards, a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative to identify and promote the world's best off-grid appliances. Follow the Global LEAP Awards on Twitter @GlobalLEAPAward.

This article is taken from the EE Times.