As Nigeria grapples with its burgeoning youth population and the need for sustained, inclusive and decent employment, energy experts have asked the federal government to look in the direction of the green energy movement for support in solving its soaring unemployment rate.
Nigeria’s unemployment rate of 33.3 percent is at a record high, but that is not the only problem. Most people work in the informal sector, which makes it difficult for them and the economy to enjoy the benefits that come with working in the formal sector.
To change this narrative, Adamu Garba, senior business venture analyst, Nigerian Climate Innovation Center (NCIC) said there is a need to propagate the gospel of green energy “so that the common man on the street can understand the concept of climate change and green opportunities.”
“Smart agriculture, waste management and innovations around water supply are all sectors that, if well positioned and supported, can generate massive employment with viable income streams,” Garba said.
He advised the government to invest heavily in innovation, research and development which would empower local entrepreneurs who can develop and deploy local solutions to solving local problems.
Oyinkepreye Orodu, the Head of Department, Petroleum engineering at Covenant University believes solar energy can have an enormous impact on unemployment, poverty and climate change.
“As the telecommunications industry flourished with the increase in skilled labour so shall Solar Energy blossom in the nearest future,” Orodu said.
A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said Nigeria, Togo, and South Africa are among countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where solar energy jobs are expanding.
The report mentioned the Solar Power Naija project in December 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project aims to expand energy access to 25 million individuals via 5 million new household connections in rural areas through solar home systems and mini-grids.
Under the programme, long-term, low-interest credit is to be extended to pre-qualified solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, as well as to manufacturers and assemblers of solar components.
The intent is to raise local content in solar manufacturing and assembly, with import substitution possibly worth $10 million per year. The government hopes to incentivise the creation of 250 000 jobs. The target for the first year is 750 000 connections and 37 500 new jobs (Sunday, 2020).