Photo: Edoardo Santangelo / Practical Action

First Annual Energy Access Jobs Census Released, Showing Large Employment Opportunity

Decentralized renewables have the potential to directly create up to 17,000 formal and 30,000 informal jobs in Kenya by 2022-23


Nairobi, July 18, 2019 -- Today, the first annual jobs census measuring employment from decentralized renewables for rural electrification in Kenya, the Powering Jobs Census 2019: The Energy Access Workforce, was released by Power for All. The census aims to spotlight the energy skills and jobs needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 ─ access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. 

Supported by Schneider Electric Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation and timed to the United Nations review this year of SDG 8, or Decent Work, the census provides the most comprehensive data on energy access jobs created by decentralized renewable energy (DRE), including solar for home and business, green mini-grids and productive use systems such as solar water pumps.

The Kenya census, for which the Strathmore University Energy Research Centre was the in-country research partner, received responses from 52 companies in Kenya across the DRE sector, including those representing a large market share.

According to the Powering Jobs census findings, decentralized renewables are:

  • A significant employer: the Kenya DRE sector is growing quickly. Its direct, formal workforce is expected to grow by 70% between 2017–18 and 2022–23. In 2017–18, the DRE sector provided about 10,000 direct, formal jobs, most of which are from end-user product providers or retailers. By 2022–23, the DRE workforce will provide more than 17,000 direct, formal jobs. Similarly, in 2017–18, the DRE sector provided about 15,000 informal jobs, and that number is expected to double by 2022-23.
  • A jobs multiplier: the sector has a significant employment impact on rural productivity. In 2017-18, it was responsible for an estimated 65,000 productive use jobs within the communities gaining access for the first time, 6 times the number of direct, formal jobs created by the DRE sector. These are non-energy sector jobs that are often related to agriculture, coming from solar water pumps for irrigation for example. 
  • Employing a highly-skilled, middle-income workforce: DRE companies delivering electricity access create skilled and middle-income jobs. More than two-thirds of DRE jobs are full-time and long-term. . 
  • Achieving gender balance: Women’s participation in almost every type of DRE companies is low, except for sector service providers where they are 41% of the workforce. Project developers and installers, in particular, have a poor gender balance. The DRE sector in Kenya relies on a young, highly skilled, long-term workforce. There is clearly opportunity to ensure the energy workforce of the future is prepared through increasing awareness of the employment opportunities, and developing strong policies on education, training, women’s empowerment, decent work and social protection
  • Employing a large number of youth: All companies in the DRE sector show high willingness to employ young people. The DRE sector in Kenya relies on a young, highly skilled, long-term workforce. About 37% of the workforce in end-user product providers are youth.
  • Experiencing major skill gaps: Sales and distribution makes up 41% of the DRE jobs in Kenya, followed by 22% in management and business administration. The sector finds managerial talents very difficult to recruit for.


“Access to electricity means access to jobs,” said Power for All Chief Research Officer and census lead researcher Dr. Rebekah Shirley. “The Powering Jobs census offers strong evidence of the important link between energy access and employment in countries where rural joblessness is at record highs. Policy-makers, donors and the private sector have an opportunity to increase support for decentralized renewables and build a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce for the energy infrastructure of the future.”

Added Prof. Izael Da Silva, Strathmore University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation: “Distributed renewable energy not only plays a significant role in providing reliable access to electricity in off grid areas but also creates jobs which leads to socio-economic development. The success of the renewable energy sector heavily relies on a skilled workforce. The Powering Jobs survey, which is a first of its kind, offers key insights on job creation potential, existing skills gap and gender inclusivity in the distributed renewable energy sector. This survey will therefore inform academia in curricula development.”

Kenya has made great strides in its electrification efforts. electrifying hundreds of thousands of households. As of December 2018, 75% of the population had access to electricity either through on-grid or off-grid applications. In its recently released Kenya National Electrification Strategy (KNES), the Government of Kenya (GoK) aimed to achieve universal electrification by 2022.  The government laid out several electrification programs that will finance grid extension, intensification and densification (including mini-grids) and the deployment of DRE solutions where the national grid cannot reach, including the Last Mile Connectivity Program, Global Partnership of Output Based Aid (GPOBA) and the USD 150 million, World-Bank funded Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAP). 

KOSAP was launched as part of the GoK’s  Vision 2030 which aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized middle-income country by providing a quality of life for its citizens. The project targets 14 out of the 47 counties in Kenya that have been defined as marginalized by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA). 

For more information about Powering Jobs, please visit 


About Power for All

Power for All is a multi-stakeholder coalition campaigning to rapidly scale the deployment of decentralized renewable energy in order to achieve universal electricity access before 2030. Decentralized renewables -- including green mini-grids and solar systems designed for households, businesses and productive use appliances -- offer the fastest, most affordable and cleanest path to electricity access for all. Power for All brings together more than 250 business, finance, research and civil society organizations To learn more visit 

About Schneider Electric Foundation

In a world where social and environmental challenges are more widespread and more urgent than ever, the Schneider Electric Foundation supports innovative and forward-looking initiatives to give as many people as possible the energy they need to succeed. It is this pioneering spirit that the Schneider Electric Foundation is seeking to advance. We see our role as a catalyst for technological, social and entrepreneurial innovation helping to close the energy gap and striving for a more equitable energy transition around the world. Ever optimistic, the Schneider Electric Foundation's aim is to help build a fairer, lower-carbon society to give future generations the keys to transform our world. 

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, the Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information, visit 


Media Contacts:

Benson Kibiti, Power for All, Benson(at) +254 720658597

Sammy Mwiti, Power for All, Sammy(at) + 254 702709686





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