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The Market Opportunity for Productive Use Leveraging Solar Energy (PULSE) in Sub-Saharan Africa



The report examines the newly emerging market for off-grid solar-powered productive use appliances (PULSE). The majority of sub-Saharan Africa’s smallholder farmers live without grid electricity and produce globally low yields. PULSE appliances - such as irrigation pumps, cooling and refrigeration, and agro-processing - can provide significant gains in productivity, helping to increase food production and reduce post-harvest losses.

The report’s findings highlight the potential of PULSE’s transformative impact and provides a compelling case for their adoption in agriculture, including:

  • Improved food security: 26% of the sub-Saharan African (SSA) population, aged 15 or older, suffers from food insecurity. PULSE solutions can help meet the growing demand for food through increased productivity and reductions in post-harvest losses.
  • Increased farm productivity: Most land in SSA is tilled, ploughed, and weeded by human hands (65%) or animal power (25%). The use of machines could increase yields substantially by increasing efficiency up to five-fold or more.
  • Employment opportunities: Agriculture sustains the livelihoods of more than 50% of the African population. Greater productivity and output can diversify value-adding employment, while accounting for some potential net job loss from mechanization.
  • Enhanced resilience to shocks: PULSE products can reduce vulnerability to multiple shocks by cushioning farmers from the impacts of climate change, fuel price variations, and fluctuations in market prices for agricultural produce.
  • Growth in the real economy: By increasing agricultural productivity, PULSE products stimulate socio-economic development. UNEP estimates that, for every 10% increase in farm yield, there has been an estimated 7% reduction in poverty in Africa and more than 5% in Asia.
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