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Sizing the value and market opportunity for productive use of energy in rural sub-Saharan Africa


PREO, the Powering Renewable Energy Opportunities programme, has launched two reports that explore opportunities to maximise productive uses of energy (PUE) applications in sub-Saharan Africa. The reports highlight the scale of the investment opportunity in PUE business models, demonstrate the innovative cross-sectoral business models that leverage PUE, and showcases how investments in PUE business models can strengthen commercial viability and support social improvements in local communities.

Funded by IKEA Foundation and UK aid through the Transforming Energy Access platform and delivered by The Carbon Trust and Energy 4 Impact, PREO is a demand led PUE programme, stimulating partnerships, innovation and learning to address the needs of sub-Saharan African communities. PREO's mission is to enable African businesses to harness clean energy to improve livelihoods, build climate resilience and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Since it was launched in 2020, PREO has provided challenge funding and technical assistance to 34 private and public sector enterprises engaged in supporting PUE.

The Power of the Productive Use of Energy – an impact investment frontier outlines the initial key findings emerging from the PREO programme, highlighting funded projects in the e-mobility, healthcare, and cooling for food sectors. It underscores the value of investment in productive equipment and appliances, whilst demonstrating the business and impact case for investment in PUE for the benefit of potential donors and commercial investors.

The second report, Capital required to maximise the productive use of energy in rural sub-Saharan Africa, looks at the scale of investment opportunity in PUE across the sub-Saharan region, estimated at $1.2 trillion over the next ten years or $120 billion per year. The report outlines that over the next decade a total investment of $662.3 billion is required for the acquisition of PUE equipment and appliances, while the remaining $528.9 billion will facilitate investment in the solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems needed to power them. The agriculture value chain accounts for the largest opportunity for the PUE capital investment. The report identifies 47 PUE appliances used mainly in the agricultural and agro-processing sectors – including water pumps, solar dryers, freezers, milling machines and oil presses – which collectively account for 88% of the value of the market opportunity. This sector comprises nearly 75% of rural economic activity.

To find out more about PREO click here.