Solar energy jobs growing in Nigeria, others new report says

Nigeria, Togo, and South Africa are among countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where solar energy jobs are expanding, a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has said.
Renewable energy employment worldwide reached 12 million last year, up from 11.5 million in 2019, according to the eighth edition of Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2021.

The report was released by the IRENA in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) at a high-level opening of IRENA’s Collaborative Framework on Just and Inclusive Transitions, co-facilitated by the United States and South Africa.

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).

Other impact investors including All On, the African Development Bank and the Bank of Industry have also played a key role to provide early stage grant and single-interest financing players in the sector.

Read also: Soaring energy prices pose economic risks for Nigeria – World Bank

Other high ranked countries are Brazil, India, the United States, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Colombia, and members of the European Union.
“Renewable energy’s ability to create jobs and meet climate goals is beyond doubt. With The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26) in front of us, governments must raise their ambition to reach net-zero,” said Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General.
Camera said the only path forward is to increase investments in a just and inclusive transition, reaping the full socioeconomic benefits along the way.

The report said China commanded a 39 percent share of renewable energy jobs worldwide in 2020, followed by Brazil, India, the United States, and members of the European Union.
Many other countries are also creating jobs in renewables. Among them are Vietnam and Malaysia, key solar PV exporters; Indonesia and Colombia, with large agricultural supply chains for biofuels; and Mexico and the Russian Federation, where wind power is growing.
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said the potential for renewable energy to generate decent work is a clear indication that “we do not have to choose between environmental sustainability on the one hand and employment creation on the other. The two can go hand-in-hand.”

Recognising that women suffered more from the pandemic because they tend to work in sectors more vulnerable to economic shocks, the report highlights the importance of a just transition and decent jobs for all, ensuring that jobs pay a living wage, workplaces are safe, and rights at work are respected.
It said a just transition requires a workforce that is diverse – with equal chances for women and men, and with career paths open to youth, minorities, and marginalised groups. International Labour Standards and collective bargaining arrangements are crucial in this context.

Fulfilling the renewable energy jobs potential will depend on ambitious policies to drive the energy transition in coming decades. In addition to deployment, enabling, and integrating policies for the sector itself, there is a need to overcome structural barriers in the wider economy and minimise potential misalignments between job losses and gains during the transition, the report said.
The report also confirmed that COVID-19 caused delays and supply chain disruptions, with impacts on jobs varying by country and end-use, and among segments of the value chain.

“The disruption to cross-border supplies caused by COVID-19 restrictions has highlighted the important role of domestic value chains. Strengthening them will facilitate local job creation and income generation, by leveraging existing and new economic activities.” the report said.
Nonetheless, the organisers went forward to forecast that more jobs (An ILO global sustainability scenario to 2030 estimates that the 24-25 million new jobs will far surpass losses of between six and seven million jobs) will be gained by the energy transition than lost.

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