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African Renewable Energy Surge Face Challenge: Too Little Staff



In sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 600 million people still do not have access to electricity, the use of renewable energy sources outside the grid is considered to be one of the fastest ways to obtain energy, especially in remote and rural areas where many Africans live.

But the big challenge is, experts say: a lack of trained staff capable of planning, installing and maintaining solar, wind and other clean energy systems.

For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Goma, "we have been facing very serious challenges in finding highly capable talents, especially at senior management level," said Kweku Yankson, African Human Resources Manager BBOXX, a. a clean energy company working to expand the network system in 12 countries from Rwanda to Pakistan.

But Rwanda has what Yanksons described as a talent for young, talented young people, but there are still relatively few people trained in clean energy technologies.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), only 16,000 people are registered as renewable energy sources in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa.

This is only 0.1% of the world's renewable energy workforce, and less than the number of people working exclusively with wind power in the US only in Illinois, IRENA noted.

But as demand for renewable energy businesses and workers engaged in product assembly, sales, marketing, finance and intellectual property increases, efforts are made to provide the necessary talent.

4.5 million jobs

The Powering Jobs campaign, launched in October at an international non-renewable energy conference in Singapore, is designed to train up to one million people worldwide by 2025 to meet the demand for renewable energy workers.

The effort driven by Power for All, an organization that promotes greater decentralized power and is supported by the Schneider Electric Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, will focus on developing skills in countries with very low electricity availability, said Gilles Vermot Desroches, Director
sustainable development.

This step is part of a wider global campaign to fill the expected 4.5 million jobs related to renewable energy expansion by 2030, according to IRENA estimates.

This enlargement is partly aimed at achieving the global goal of sustainable development by providing universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.

FILE - Officer walks past solar panels at Pavagada Solar Park, 175 kilometers (109 miles) north of Bangalore, India, March 1, 2018. The park is expected to produce 2000 megawatts of power.

FILE – Officer walks past solar panels at Pavagada Solar Park, 175 kilometers (109 miles) north of Bangalore, India, March 1, 2018. The park is expected to produce 2000 megawatts of power.

In Africa, lessons have been learned from India, which over the past two years has produced over 30,000 solar electrical installers as part of government-backed efforts.

According to the Indian government, the country's goal is to train 50,000 installers by 2022.

One of the biggest problems in Africa in expanding the renewable energy network is that systems need to be designed and operated in remote locations where it may be more difficult to attract and retain staff, said Yankson of BBOXX.

Also in countries such as Rwanda, where more and more international companies have trained many young people, "the most urgent task has been to find highly capable and experienced managers and find senior financial managers," he said.

In Kenya, Yankson said the cost is cost: Qualified talents come with high wages thanks to competition from the best people in Nairobi between companies and non-profit groups.

"The main constraint we have faced in Kenya is the cost of talent," he said.

New leaders

To provide a wider range of potential rental options, BBOXX has created the BBOXX Academy, an online training platform offering professional courses, said Emery Nzirabatinya, a former company training and development manager, now working for Nairobi as a hearing aid company. BBOXX also launched Kigali's next leaderboard program.

"The program is looking for strong university graduates to be introduced with the robust, annual development and exposure program BBOXX," said Nzirabatin.

Julienne Ayinkamiye, a recent graduate of engineering at the Rwandan University of Science and Technology, is one of two launchers in the Kigali management project.

As part of the program, she is responsible for the BBOXX Pilot Solar Lighting project, which is launched this year in Rwanda and then throughout Africa, and has worked in various departments of the company.

The paper includes customer satisfaction surveys and competitor analysis, she said.

She said she believes that training "will help me increase my analytical, project management and general management skills" and give BBOXX a greater potential talent set.

"I will now work on real projects affecting thousands of rural households across Africa," she said.

FILE - On October 22, 2016, technicians are working on electric lockers at the opening ceremony of a new photovoltaic power plant in Bokhol, Senegal. It was one of Sub-Saharan Africa's largest solar energy projects.

FILE – On October 22, 2016, technicians are working on electric lockers at the opening ceremony of a new photovoltaic power plant in Bokhol, Senegal. It was one of Sub-Saharan Africa's largest solar energy projects.

Demand for more trained renewable energy workers comes because more and more African countries are trying to reinforce the use of renewable energy sources outside the grid.

Kenya launched a new national electrification strategy in December, which includes separate, unrestricted renewable energy systems as a key part of the country's target of 100% access to electricity by 2022.

About three-quarters of the Kenyan population currently has access to electricity, according to the new plan.

Part of Kenya's efforts is a non-grid solar energy access project aimed at connecting 1.3 million people in 14 particularly under-developed areas, said Kiva, Secretary for Renewable Energy at the Kenya Energy Ministry.

"We are also working with our educational system to develop solar-specific training programs to build the capacity they need," he said.

In Rwanda, the government is working with US universities, including Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon, and collaborates with online learning efforts to provide better access to clean energy jobs training, Nzirabatinya said.

"This will have a positive impact on the Rwandan talent association's readiness to work," he predicted.


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