Nigeria’s renewable energy sector to create over 76,000 by 2023

Technicians installing solar panels

A new report estimates that jobs in decentralized renewable energy (DRE) expected will exceed 76,000 in 2023, up from 32,000 in 2019, overtaking the oil and gas sector.

This is contained in the Powering Jobs Census 2022: The Energy Access Workforce Nigeria report, which was launched on Friday, by Power for All, a global campaign to end energy poverty, in collaboration with Clean Technology Hub Nigeria.

Research shows Nigeria has the fastest sector job growth and has built a strong market position in decentralized renewable energy (DRE), which is poised to reap the benefits as it addresses energy poverty and rural unemployment.

According to the report, the DRE sector in Nigeria has been growing rapidly and delivering clean and affordable energy, particularly to remote rural communities, and is now also a major source of good and stable jobs, nearly matching those in the county’s oil and gas sector.

In a statement, the DRE sector, which includes Pico-solar appliances, solar home systems (SHS), and commercial and industrial (C&I) standalone systems, currently employs 50,000 people compared to 65,000 in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

The sector is further expected to grow following the recently launched Nigeria Energy Transition Plan, which outlines the country’s ambitions and plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, while also ending energy poverty.

“The report demonstrates the health and viability of the DRE sector to help not only accelerate the country’s energy access agenda, but also to help alleviate unemployment, especially in rural areas,” says Suranjana Ghosh, Power for All’s Director for Campaigns and Partnership.

Countries survey

The report—made possible through the generous support of The Rockefeller Foundation, Good Energies Foundation, and the European Programme GET.invest—is based on a survey of more than 350 companies across five countries: Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.

It provides a comprehensive picture of employment in the DRE sector, including recruitment, the skill levels of the DRE workforce, availability of and investment in training, compensation levels, women’s participation, and workforce retention.

Of the countries analysed, Nigeria enjoyed the fastest post-pandemic recovery and growth in DRE jobs. The country lost almost 2,000 DRE jobs in 2020 from short-term pandemic impacts.

However, the sector bounced back strongly in 2021, registering approximately 50,000 jobs, nearly twice the number of jobs observed in 2020. The demand for Solar Home Systems products, which was already on a fast upward trajectory before the pandemic, was key to the rapid recovery and growth.

The report indicates the sector is maturing with the percentage of formal and skilled workers comprising over half of the DRE workforce in the country, at more than 56%.

Mature DRE markets tend to have a relatively high share of skilled labourers as the technologies become advanced and demand for advanced technical positions, such as installation technicians and maintenance professionals.

This shortage of skilled workers is expected to get worse as the sector grows and the world transitions away from fossil fuels.

Women integration

However, the renewable energy sector in Nigeria, similar to the other study countries, is still failing to adequately integrate women into the workforce, and this was only exacerbated by the pandemic.

The share of women working in the DRE sector in Nigeria was 37% behind Kenya’s 41%, which was also the highest.

Notably, in the countries studied, female participation was higher in DRE than in the traditional energy sector at only 22%, and in the broader renewable energy sector at 32%. This shows the role that DRE can play in bringing more women into more meaningful workforce positions.

Despite the growth in the number of jobs, DRE companies surveyed as part of this study indicated that they struggle to fill critical roles due to a lack of qualified applicants.

This shortage of skilled workers is expected to get worse as the sector grows and the world transitions away from fossil fuels.

“This report is coming at a very auspicious time because with the very recent release of Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, the report provides a great opportunity for decision makers in government as well as industry actors to apply a job and economic growth lens in implementing the plan.

“This #PoweringJobs report makes this easier because it provides the data, and the numbers for what is possible when decentralized renewables is a core part of the transition,” notes Ifeoma Malo, CEO of Clean Technology Hub.

The report calls for immediate action to help address this growing skills gap. Collaboration of various stakeholders—education institutions, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), government and DRE companies—is required to support reskilling and upskilling the DRE workforce.

A successful focused approach will support the growth and scaling of the sector to realize its potential to deliver modern energy (SDG 7), as well as good work and decent jobs (SDG 8) in the country.

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