solar panels africa SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images

Electrifying Africa’s Labor Market

With more than 600 million people lacking access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, off-grid renewable energy has the potential to transform economies and lift millions out of poverty. But green power can do something else, too: it can help solve the continent’s mounting unemployment crisis.

NAIROBI/PARIS – Africa is on the verge of an unemployment crisis portending profound economic, political, and social ramifications. But the crisis can be averted, and one of the solutions may be as simple as turning on the lights.

Every year, some 13 million young people look for work in Africa, but only about three million of them find jobs. The continent’s youth population is projected to double by 2050, to 840 million, and yet Africa’s schools and universities are not producing enough graduates with the technical skills to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. Although the African Development Bank (AfDB) hopes to create 25 million new jobs within a decade through its Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, it is not immediately clear where those opportunities will come from.

But one industry is poised to fill the jobs gap: the renewable energy industry.

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