The off-grid solar industry is generating thousands of employment opportunities in emerging markets, with significant growth expected in East Africa by 2022 – GOGLA report has revealed.
These opportunities have crucial impacts on individual livelihoods, on rural and urban development, and on other sectors in the economy.
Across East, West and Central Africa, and across South Asia, it is estimated that the off-grid sector currently supports 370,000 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs. South Asia accounts for around 260,000 of these jobs, representing the largest market for employment amongst the four regions. This employment opportunity is driven by a large volume of sales which is expected to maintain a strong growth trend in coming years.
By 2022, the off-grid solar sector could support up to 1.3 million FTE jobs across these four regions. South Asia will remain the largest market for employment, accounting for 740,000 FTE jobs, largely driven by an increase in the volume of cash-based off-grid solar technology sales. As the second largest market, East Africa will account for 350,000 FTE jobs predominantly generated by the rapid and ongoing growth of the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGo) service delivery model in the region.
PAYGo business models have seen substantial growth, especially in countries with mature mobile money market. It allows households to pay for clean and reliable off-grid solar products in small installments: instead of requiring upfront payments for a system, customers can pay for the system in small amounts using mobile wallet, mobile money, or scratch cards receiving tokens for the equivalent of units paid for.
The off-grid solar sector is generating a wealth of new employment opportunities across the value chain, ranging from entry-level to highly skilled positions. The scale and nature of these jobs will continue to evolve. Technological innovation will also drive an expansion in job opportunities, with larger off grid solar systems supporting a wider range of complex consumer goods.
Of these jobs, the majority will be in rural areas, supporting job creation and diversification among often economically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. There is also a strong representation of women among workers in the off-grid solar sector, which is expected to rise.
According to the report, wages in the industry are in line with, or higher than, average national wages and many companies are also supporting the expansion of skills and capacity of their staff through training and development programs.