Survey sees Nigeria’s DRE sector swiftly creating 52,000 new jobs by 2023

*Says country’s DRE employed more people than her oil sector in 2018

By 2023 – in four years’ time, Nigeria’s Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) market would have created about 52,000 direct new jobs – employing 13 times more than it did in 2018, a new job survey from the Power for All has disclosed.

The survey also stated that between 2017 and 2018, the country’s DRE market created 4,000 news jobs, and compared it to about 10,000 jobs her gas, electricity and air conditioning sectors created in the same period.

Reportedly the first annual jobs census measuring employment from decentralized renewables for rural electrification in Nigeria, the survey titled: Powering Jobs Census 2019: The Energy Access Workforce, was released by Power for All recently in Abuja.

The census aimed to spotlight the energy skills and jobs needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 ─ access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, in Nigeria, and it was supported by Schneider Electric Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation.

It was also timed to the United Nations review of the SDG 8, or Decent Work this year and reportedly provided the most comprehensive data on energy access jobs created by DRE, including solar for home and business, green mini-grids and productive use systems such as solar water pumps.

A statement from Power for All Nigeria office, explained that the Nigeria DRE job census had the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) and Nigeria Climate Innovation Center (NCIC) as in-country research partners.

It equally stated that responses from 50 companies in Nigeria across the DRE sector, including many major companies in the sector representing a large market share were captured in the research.

Dr. Rebekah Shirley, who is Power for All Chief Research Officer and census lead researcher, stated in the statement that, “Access to electricity means access to jobs.”

Shirley, further noted that, “The Powering Jobs census offers strong evidence of the important link between energy access and employment in countries where rural joblessness is at record highs.”

“Policy-makers, donors and the private sector have an opportunity to increase support for decentralized renewables and build a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce for the energy infrastructure of the future,” she added.

Key findings

According to the statement, the survey discovered that Nigeria’s decentralized renewables were a significant employer of people, that is, relative to its penetration level in the market, the sector has already grown an impressive direct employee base.

“Nigeria survey results show that the country’s DRE direct, formal workforce may grow 13 times between 2017-18 and 2022-23 if the mini-grid market continues to expand at a rapid pace,” said the Power for All in its findings.

It added, “In 2017-18, the DRE sector provided about 4,000 jobs (compared to the gas, electricity and air conditioning sector, which employed about 10,000 in the same year), most of which are from standalone and grid-tied commercial and industrial (C&I) projects.

“With a clear target of 10,000 mini-grids by 2023 set by the Rural Electrification Agency, mini-grids could grow to become an important employer. In such a scenario, the DRE workforce will provide more than 52,000 direct formal jobs by 2022-23, a growth of 13x multiple.”

According to it, the DRE sector has a significant employment impact on the informal sector as well.

“In 2017-18, the sector provided about 9,000 informal jobs. The number of informal jobs would more than double in the next five years, reaching 24,000 informal jobs by 2022-23,” the survey result noted.

Further, it said the sector had a jobs multiplier character, noting that in addition to direct, formal employment, the sector also accounts for up to 3–4 times as many jobs created through the productive use of energy particularly in rural and peri-urban communities being electrified for the first time.

“Currently, the DRE sector in Nigeria has created 15,000 productive use jobs, and that is expected to grow as the mini-grid sector industry,” it explained.

As well as employing a highly-skilled, middle-income workforce, the survey stated that the DRE companies delivering electricity access have created skilled, middle-income jobs which also have longer employee retention than utility-scale power.

It explained that a gender balance has also been achieved in the sector with end-user product companies selling pico-solar appliances, SHS and other small off-grid appliances directly to end-user customers using more women.

“With 52 per cent of formal workers and 44 per cent of the informal workers serving the sector being women, often as sales agents,” it noted that a gender balance has been created in the sector.

The sector, it noted has also employed a large number of youths through opportunity for engagement.

It explained that this will be an important response to the growing challenge of youth unemployment in many emerging economies, and that the youth make up 42 per cent of the end-user product provider workforce in the sector in Nigeria.

Similarly, the survey explained that there is a growing shortage of job-ready talent to finance, develop, install, operate and market in the sector.

“Management skills, in particular, represent a critical gap for unlocking further sectoral growth. In Nigeria, with the target of 10,000 mini-grids by 2023 as well as increasing investments and grant funding towards the target, skill demand may shift towards the operation and maintenance of the mini-grids.

“Management and business administration talents continue to be one of the most highly demanded skills now and in the future (24% of jobs in 2017–18, and 27% of jobs in 2022-23). Managerial skills are said to be one of the most difficult skills to recruit for, partly due to the lack of talent pool and partly due to the competition of talents from other sectors,” it stated.

Background statistics

Putting a context on the survey, Power for All noted that Nigeria’s federal government has a plan tagged Vision 30:30:30, which aims to achieve a power generation goal of 30 gigawatts (GW) with a renewable energy mix of 30 per cent by 2030.

It added that this was part of the country’s rural electrification goal, which aims to provide reliable power to 75 per cent and 90 per cent of the population by 2020 and 2030 respectively through the expansion of DRE technologies. This, it explained has created a large market potential for DRE in Nigeria, requiring a local workforce to sustain it.

“Overall employment data suggests that women and youth are the hardest impacted by the dearth of employment opportunities, particularly those in rural communities. According to the International Labour Organization, young men and women between the ages of 15 to 24 comprise 23 per cent of the working-age population in Nigeria. Employment for women and especially rural women is critical in Nigeria as women are 26 per cent of those unemployed nationally,” it explained.

The statement also quoted Bankole Oloruntoba, who is the Executive Director of NCIC, to have said about the survey, that, “Creating jobs in the green economy is data-driven and the Powering Jobs project is critical to the creation of jobs for the future. The increase in private sector players in the clean energy space shows the viability of that sector, with the innovative use of clean energy, comes the creation of jobs.”

Similarly, Lande Abudu, the Executive Secretary of REAN said about it that, “With the exciting developments in a fast-evolving renewable energy sector, our optimism is high that it will lead to increased energy security and revitalized economy.”