Press Release: New Reporting Standards Could Energize the Off-Grid Solar Industry
CGAP, GOGLA, and IFC/Lighting Global today launched the PAYGo Performance, Reporting and Measurement (PAYGo PERFORM) financial reporting framework for the pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) solar industry. Developed through an industry-led process involving roughly 600 stakeholders, the framework represents a significant step toward helping this promising young industry improve performance, present an accessible profile to investors, and attract the capital it needs to lift millions of people out of energy poverty.
The PAYGo PERFORM framework includes a set of 36 key performance indicators (KPIs) that stand to enable the PAYGo industry to clearly communicate financial performance, operational performance, and portfolio quality to investors.
“The PERFORM KPIs are an important and well-thought-out step to improve financial reporting and operating benchmarks, as our industry is made up of young companies with evolving business models,” said Shagun Jain, commercial director at PAYGo solar company Rural Spark and one of the stakeholders who was involved in developing the new framework.
“Now is the ideal time for the industry to introduce common reporting standards and increase transparency to attract further investment from the existing and potential new investors. We are very proud of being actively involved in the whole process and looking forward to the industry adopting them,” he said.
The PAYGo industry emerged roughly a decade ago as off-grid solar companies in Africa and Asia looked for ways to make home solar systems more accessible to households that could not afford to buy them upfront. With PAYGo, customers acquire a home solar system for a low upfront cost and pay it off over time by digitally prepaying for usage — similar to the way mobile phone users prepay for airtime. There is no collateral and no fixed payment schedule. When prepaid usage runs out, the system simply shuts off. After purchasing enough units of energy usage, customers own the system and may continue using it at no cost.
“These features make PAYGo uniquely suited to low-income households with irregular incomes and little to no savings,” said Russell Sturm, global head of energy access at IFC Lighting Global, the World Bank Group’s platform to support sustainable growth of the international off-grid solar market.
Koen Peters, executive director of the global off-grid solar energy industry association GOGLA, said that PAYGo companies have already clearly proven their potential in addressing energy poverty and financial exclusion. However, to fully use that potential, this industry segment will need to scale much further, and the PAYGo PERFORM KPIs will be critical to achieving this scale:
“By 2020, PAYGo companies had reached an estimated 27 million people who were not served by traditional utilities and financial services providers before. But to keep growing and reach millions more low-income households, the industry needs a lot of capital investment. The lack of a standardized reporting framework has made it difficult for mainstream investors to analyze companies’ performance and channel capital to them. With the PAYGo Perform KPIs, we’re seeking to address exactly that, removing one more barrier towards the sector’s growth,” he said.
While the PAYGo PERFORM KPIs should help investors identify sustainable businesses best set to scale the extension of clean, reliable energy to poor communities, the benefits of PAYGo extend beyond energy access and climate change.
“Low-income households in rural areas aren’t just off grid. They’re also one of the hardest populations to reach with financial services. PAYGo companies are bringing digital payments to rural communities and giving people a compelling reason to use these services. There’s an important financial inclusion aspect to PAYGo solar,” said Xavier Faz, lead of business models research at CGAP, a global partnership of organizations working to advance financial inclusion.
CGAP, GOGLA, and IFC Lighting Global encourage all PAYGo companies and investors in the space to adopt the PAYGo PERFORM KPIs. To learn more, visit www.findevgateway.org/paygo-perform-kpis.