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Kenya leads Africa in deployment of mini-grids: Here’s how it has affected employment in the country

Kenya leads Africa in deployment of mini-grids: Here’s how it has affected employment in the country
  • Mini-grids are pivotal for bridging energy gaps in rural Africa.
  • Kenya is at the forefront of African mini-grid deployment, as reported by IRENA's 2023 review.
  • Mini-grid projects, like the GMG Facility in Kenya, generate jobs.

Mini-grids will become more and more crucial in bridging the energy access gaps that still exist, especially in isolated rural regions. Around 500 mini-grid installations were present in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2010.

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Although the number has increased dramatically, there has to be an even greater acceleration. There are already over 3000 installations. More than 160,000 mini-grids are reportedly needed, according to one estimate (World Bank, 2023), to satisfy access demands.

“Kenya features prominently in the region, having deployed a significant share of Africa’s mini-grids,” this is according to the Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2023, by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future.

The EU-funded Green Mini-Grid (GMG) Facility Programme in Kenya, which consists of 33 locations and is primarily solar PV-based, has been evaluated by the International Labour Organization for its effects on employment.

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According to the research (Oyuma, Game, and Lieuw-Kie-Song, 2023), it is assumed that a typical mini-grid would require 7 and 104 people, respectively, for the design and feasibility phase and another month for construction.

This equals 0.7 and 8.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs for a total of 9.5 FTE jobs, almost all of which are held by males. Nearly half of the occupations in the building phase pay an average daily income of KES 500 (USD 4.69), compared to KES 1 600 (USD 15.025) for wiring work and KES 2 700 (USD 25.355) for field engineers and home mappers, for instance. The majority of the positions are unskilled.

The report predicts an additional 2.8 FTE positions for O&M. The research also calculated 652 indirect and induced jobs (these are not necessarily FTE positions) in industry, services, and agriculture for the 33 locations covered by GMG. Twenty percent or so of the population are women.

According to the report, 58 FTE jobs might be produced yearly for every EUR 1 million spent, based on average investment expenditures of EUR 195 275 per site and EUR 688 for each link. The major findings for direct jobs both now and if future mini-grid objectives are met are summarized in Table 1.

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