Graduation Date

Fall 2022

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Energy, Technology, and Policy

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Arne Jacobson

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Peter Alstone

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Quality assurance, Market surveillance, Solar PAYG, Consumer protection, East Africa solar, West Africa solar

Subject Categories

Environmental Systems


Off-grid Pay As You Go (PAYG) solar products have become one of the fastest-growing approaches to providing basic electricity services to off-grid households not only in Sub-Saharan Africa but also in many other parts of the world with limited or no access to the grid connection. However, sustainably growing the PAYG solar industry requires paying close attention to product quality from the point of manufacturing to the end user. This research examines how to best design market surveillance programs that ensure quality in off-grid PAYG solar products and strengthen the implementation and enforcement of quality standards in the off-grid solar market. It identifies and analyzes the common failures in off-grid PAYG solar products and formulates recommendations for designing an effective market surveillance program that tracks quality-certified off-grid PAYG solar products to ensure that they continue to perform as per the certified quality standards once they reach the market.

Based on the information gathered from the industry practitioners, quality testing and certification laboratory, and data from the Kenya market survey, the most common failures were reported in batteries, lights and switches. Based on the Kenya data alone, batteries reported 57% of the failures in solar home kits and 38% in Solar Home Systems. Although not directly related to the product, some companies noted problems with the supporting technology systems for PAYG solar products such as telecom network service issues that made it difficult for end-users to make payments for their PAYG solar products as well as receive activation codes on time via mobile phone when they are able to make payments. Additionally, the research unveiled challenges associated with ensuring that warranties are offered to the end-users as indicated on the products by the manufacturer as one of the quality standards requirements enforced by the VeraSol quality assurance program. A market surveillance program and quality standards that aim at solving these common failures in PAYG solar products can help improve quality in the off-grid solar market and make the industry more sustainable by focusing on improving quality standards, monitoring and test methods with more focus on the identified common product failures on the market.

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