In Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 600 million people still have access to electricity, off-grid renewable energy is considered to be one of the fastest ways to get energy where it is needed, particularly in remote and rural areas where many Africans live.
But the big challenge stands in the way, experts say: a lack of trained staff able to plan, install and maintain solar, wind and other clean energy systems.
For example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, "we had very serious problems finding very talented talents, especially at top management level," said Kweku Yankson, Head of Human Resources for Africa for BBOXX. clean energy companies working to expand off-grid systems in 12 countries from Rwanda to Pakistan.
Rwanda has everything Yankson has identified as a great group of talented young talents, but there are still relatively few people who have practiced clean energy technology.
Overall, only 16,000 people working in renewable energy are reported in Sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
This is just 0.1 percent of the workforce in renewable energy and less than the number of people working at wind power plants in Illinois, USA.
But with increasing demand for renewable energy entrepreneurs and workers in the field of assembly of products, sales, marketing, finance and intellectual property, efforts are being made to provide the necessary talents.
4.5 million jobs
The Powering Jobs campaign, launched in October at the International Conference on Renewable Energy in Singapore, aims to bring millions of people around the world to meet the demand for renewable energy workers by 2025.
Efforts led by Power for All, an organization that supports greater use of decentralized power and supported by the Schneider Electric and Rockefeller Foundation, will focus on building skills in countries where access to electricity is very low, said Gilles Vermot Desroches, Director
sustainable development of Schneider.
This step is part of a wider global campaign to fill the expected 4.5 million jobs related to the expansion of renewable energy outside the network by 2030, according to IRENA estimates.
This expansion is partly focused on achieving the global sustainable development goal of universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy sources by 2030.
In Africa, lessons are learned from India, which has trained more than 30,000 solar power installers over the past two years as part of government-backed efforts.
According to the Indian Government, the country aims to develop a total of 50,000 plumbers by 2022.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the expansion of renewable energy outside the network in Africa is that systems need to be built and run in remote locations where it can be harder to attract and retain workers, said Yankson of BBOXX.
Even in countries like Rwanda, where a large number of multinational companies grew, they trained large numbers of young workers, "the most urgent challenge was to find highly skilled and experienced managers and find financial managers," he said.
In Kenya, Yankson said the difficulty is: High-quality talent comes with high salaries due to competition among the best people in Nairobi between companies and non-profit groups.
"The main constraints we faced in Kenya were talent costs," he said.
BBOXX has created an online learning platform that offers training courses, said Emery Nzirabatinya, a former manager for education and development at a company now working in Nairobi for a US listening company. BBOXX also launched a future program of executives in Kigali, he said.
"The program strives for strong university graduates who are under strict, year-round development and exposure programs at BBOXX," said Nzirabatinya.
Julienne Ayinkamiye, a recent high-tech graduate in Rwanda, is one of two inaugural Kigali participants.
As part of the program, she is responsible for running the BBOXX Solar Lighting pilot project, which was launched in Rwanda and then across Africa, and worked in a number of different departments.
The work included customer satisfaction research and competitors' analysis, she said.
She said she believes training will "help me improve my analytical skills, project management and general managerial skills" and will provide BBOXX with greater talent for leases.
"Work is now working on real projects that have an impact on the lives of thousands of rural households across Africa," she said.
Pressure on trained workers in renewable energy comes with an increasing number of countries in Africa trying to increase the use of renewable energy outside the grid.
In December, Kenya launched a new national electricity strategy that includes stand-alone, off-grid renewable energy systems as a key part of the country's goal of achieving 100% access to electricity by 2022.
About three quarters of Kenyans currently have access to electricity under the new plan.
Part of the effort for Kenya is a solar-focused project aimed at linking 1.3 million people in 14 particularly inadequate areas, said Isaac Kiva, Secretary of Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy in Kenya.
"We are also working with our education system to develop a solar energy curriculum to create the necessary capacity," he said.
In Rwanda, the government is working with US universities, including Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and is collaborating with on-line educational efforts to improve access to training for clean energy workers, Nzirabatinya said.
"This will have a positive impact on the working capacity of the Rwanda talent fund," he predicted.