Key insights from “Powering Jobs Census 2022”

The Power for All “Powering Jobs Census 2022” is a bottom-up count of employment in the DRE sector based on a survey of more than 350 companies across five countries: Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.

Here are the key insights:

  1. The DRE sector drives job creation and can play an important role in alleviating unemployment while ending energy poverty.

The DRE sector is a significant job creator in the countries studied. With the support of public and private stakeholders, DRE can play an important role in alleviating unemployment. The DRE sector created 80,000 direct employment jobs in India and 50,000 jobs each in Nigeria and Kenya. The sector employed nearly 30,000 people in Uganda and 11,000 in Ethiopia.

In addition to the total number of jobs created, employment in the DRE sector itself has a far-reaching impact. Most of the jobs are created in rural areas where the bulk of the demand for DRE products exists. This demand stimulates the economic growth of rural areas and provides an off-farm employment alternative for rural youth.


  1. Decentralized renewable energy is a resilient sector, as shown by job recovery and growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021 total employment in the DRE sector rebounded in three of the five focus countries: India, Kenya, and Nigeria. Strong demand for DRE products is expected to boost job creation in the Nigerian DRE market over the coming years. On the other hand, Uganda and Ethiopia have struggled to achieve pre-pandemic levels of DREbased employment due to COVID-19 and other factors. The employment trajectories of the focus countries have varied, but, in general, the DRE sector has shown its resiliency by regaining within a year most of the jobs lost due to the pandemic.

Rooftop systems are still major drivers of job creation within the sector, but C&I and mini-grids will likely become more important. Altogether, SHS accounted for at least 80% of the job creation in the four SSA countries studied in this report. On the other hand, in India, total employment in the SHS and C&I sectors are roughly equal. When Powering Jobs Census 2019 came out, the pico-solar and SHS sector was a dominant job creator in India.

As customers gain access to basic electricity, they are largely expected to demand products with expanded capacity. Hence, as the DRE sector matures it transitions into mini-grids, standalone solar systems, and C&I, which usually meet the need for improved electricity access. This results in most of the job creation transitioning away from SHS to bigger DRE systems.

The transition away from SHS to larger DRE systems will have a direct implication on the quality and quantity of jobs created in the sector. The type of employment created by mini-grids and C&I requires better technical capability. Jobs such as installation andmaintenance technicians will be more important compared to sales agents’ jobs.


  1. Pico-solar and SHS companies are still the engine of DRE employment in Africa, but the market is expected to mature over the medium to long term as in the case of India.

Pico-solar and SHS technologies account for the majority of employment in all countries. However, as the market matured in India, partly due to a nationwide electrification effort, shares of sales and employment shrank considerably. Powering Jobs Census 2019 found that pico-solar and SHS companies accounted for 97% of India’s total direct employment. By 2021, that share dropped to 53% and the difference was mostly taken over by C&I systems.

African markets are expected to go through a similar transition, though in the medium to long term. While standalone C&I systems currently generate 30% of employment in Ethiopia and over 10% in Kenya, mini-grids still account for a tiny share of employment. In addition, there is still a margin for growth within smaller technologies, especially SHS, as families and businesses exchange small systems for larger ones and purchase more appliances.

The lower labor intensity of larger technologies (like C&I systems and mini-grids) as compared to pico-solar and SHS technologies is expected to lead to an overall drop in direct employment as markets mature. However, total jobs are likely to rise as these technologies create disproportionately more indirect and induced jobs (than direct ones) such as local retail stores or restaurants.


  1. Women’s participation in direct employment recorded slight improvement but is still far from achieving parity.

Women’s participation rates in Kenya and Nigeria were recorded at 40% and 35% respectively. Powering Jobs Census 2019 reported women’s participation in 2018 at 23% and 27% for Kenya and Nigeria respectively. Hence, both countries have registered impressive growth. On the other hand, India has stalled in creating job opportunities for women. Women’s participation rate in India has declined from 23% in 2018 to 20% in 2021.

Women tend to be overrepresented in office and desk jobs and underrepresented in technical jobs. This has partly led to the pay gap in the sector.


Excerpt of: Powering Jobs Census 2022: The Energy Access Workforce, Power for All 2022.


Download the full report here.




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