In connection with the climate negotiations in Glasgow, UK we arranged two events related to BGFA on 9 November. How BGFA supports the development of sustainable energy access in rural areas in Africa and how the off-grid sector is creating local jobs and supporting skills development.
Supporting job creation and skills development in the off-grid sector
The Nordics are supporting job creation and skills development in the BGFA countries as part of their support to scale up the off-grid sector, which is becoming a significant employer in emerging economies that suffer from high rates of joblessness.
Both Denmark and Sweden, as donors to the BGFA programme, are financing a job creation sub-programme in Uganda, where the aim is to create at least 300 decent jobs within the off-grid solar energy sector in the country as well as to support different activities to pilot skills development. Currently, some 38% of the population in the country has access to electricity, of which 50% comes through the national grid and 50% through off-grid solutions.
The event The Nordics as pioneers in developing jobs and skills in Africa opened the current situation in Uganda and looked into overall job creation within the renewable energy sector.
At the event, Simon Trace, from Oxford Policy Management, highlighted that some 9,000-1,650 direct jobs need to be created in the off-grid sector in Uganda from now to 2030. These jobs are crucial for Uganda to electrify. Furthermore, he pointed out that support for training and skills development is needed to increase the female workforce in the sector, which is currently at about 30%, especially to get females into higher skilled jobs.
Kristina Skierka, CEO of Power for All, was optimistic about the development of jobs within the renewable energy sector but felt that the sector must actively reach out to young people to engage them to work in this sector. According to Skierka, over 23 million people have lost the opportunity to electrify so far during the COVID pandemic, but employment within the renewable energy sector is expected to pass the pre-COVID numbers already during 2022. Skierka also highlighted that the Beyond the Grid Fund is a forward-looking initiative that can really actualise the development of job creation in the off-grid sector with its results-based financing approach.
Photo: Tero Pajukallio for Nefco. From left: Simon Trace, Kristina Skierka and Ash Sharma
Scaling up energy access in Africa
During the official UNFCCC side event Mobilising private sector finance in Africa to achieve SDG7 outcomes, Per Olsson Fridh, former Minister for the International Development Cooperation of Sweden, commented in his opening remarks that a combination of national grid, off-grid solutions and mini-grids are needed to scale up energy access worldwide. Fridh highlighted that BGFA is a successful public/private partnership, as we need to work for a green transition together, “partnership is leadership”.
Over 700 million people still lack access to energy worldwide. “Off-grid solutions are the fastest and most cost-effective route to energy access,” commented Koen Peters, Executive Director at GOGLA, in his keynote speech. Some 420 million people already have access to electricity through off-grid solutions now. However, more public funding subsidies are needed to leverage private finance into the off-grid sector.
More financing is needed to scale up access to energy as well as strengthen the public-private partnership, which was also highlighted by Katarina Ammitzbøll, Member of the Danish Parliament. From its first funding round, BGFA has chosen energy service providers in Burkina Faso, Liberia and Zambia, and these funded projects will start their implementation during 2022.
Photo: Tero Pajukallio for Nefco. Swedish Minister for the International Development Cooperation opening the event.