Off-Grid Solar in Myanmar – Vast Opportunities in a Challenging Market

By Sascha Brandt, GOGLA Communication & Project Officer

Myanmar has one of the lowest electrification rates in Asia: Only one third of the population has access to the electricity grid. At the same time, Myanmar is “among the regions with very feasible potential for PV power generation”, The World Bank’s ESMAP program found in a 2017 analysis. Mobile phone connections have increased sharply since 2014 to over 40 million in a country of 52 million inhabitants where 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas. The opportunities for off-grid solar providers are thus immense – but so are the challenges.

Off-Grid Solar Companies Have Ambitious Plans for Myanmar

SolarHome and Greenlight Planet are among the GOGLA members who have launched operations in Myanmar. SolarHome Asia recently announced it is currently installing 1,000 solar home systems per month. The Singapore-based company plans to invest over 5 million USD In the Myanmar market expecting to serve at least 40,000 households by the end of 2018.

Another GOGLA member with ambitious plans for the Southeast Asian nation is Greenlight Planet. “We entered the market through our partners and also launched our direct channel with support from UNCDF grant funding with an aim to test our business model and reach deep interiors of Myanmar and give the off-grid population lighting that they deserve”, Divya Arya, Asia Marketing Lead at Greenlight Planet says.

Greenlight Planet currently relies on the pay-as-you-go model as well as cash sales to reach customers in Myanmar. The firm has plans to expand to over 20 regions within the country.

Challenges for Off-Grid Solar Companies in Myanmar

While political and economic reforms have led to progress in Myanmar, challenges remain in a country which had lived under military rule for over 40 years.

According to Divya Arya, access and interactions with government officials for off-grid solar companies remain limited. She would welcome increased support from the government when it comes to quality standards and access to finance. Additional challenges include the roll-out of mobile payment systems and limited transport connectivity in remote areas.

Despite the hurdles, Divya strikes an optimistic note. “The off-grid solar market in Myanmar continues to grow phenomenally and has vast untapped potential.” The country’s government seems to increase its engagement as well - in partnership with the World Bank, it launched an initiative which aims to bring the benefits of off-grid electrification to 2 million people by 2021.

This article is part of a series of blog posts on the off-grid solar market in Asia in the run-up to the Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo (22-24 January 2017 in Hong Kong). Organized by GOGLA and Lighting Global and supported by the World Bank's ESMAP program, the Forum and Expo is the world's premier off-grid solar event bringing together more than 500 off-grid solar professionals. Read more at

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