Ending Energy Poverty by 2030 Can Create 500 Mn New Jobs in Africa and Asia: Study

Investing in distributed renewable energy systems could end energy poverty and create 25 million direct jobs in the power sector in Africa and Asia by 2030, while saving 4 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, finds new research by The Rockefeller Foundation.

September 22, 2021. By Manu Tayal

Investing in distributed renewable energy systems could end energy poverty and create 25 million direct jobs in the power sector in Africa and Asia by 2030, while saving 4 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, finds new research by The Rockefeller Foundation.
 
By comparison, investing in fossil fuels over the same period creates less than half a million direct jobs, the great majority of which would be temporary, said the report.
 
The report, ‘Transforming A Billion Lives: The job creation potential from a green power transition in the energy-poor world’, calculated that this could be achieved with an annual investment of USD 130 billion in distributed renewable energy systems.
 
In addition to these direct jobs in the power sector, this new clean power would also create nearly 500 million new jobs in agriculture, health care, education, and small and medium-sized enterprises and set in motion a green transition across energy-poor countries over the next decade.
 
Commenting on the report, Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, said “the world is at a crossroads. Fortunately, technological advances have given humanity the tools for transformative change, so for the first time in history, we can address the climate crisis while empowering people with the jobs and electricity they need to care for their families, pursue opportunities, and thrive.”
 
“We must now find the courage, and the resources, to come together and change how the world works and how people live. Nothing less will do,” he added.
 
According to the report, there are currently 3.6 billion energy-poor people – nearly half the world’s population – who either don’t have access to electricity, or have access to unreliable power, or are underserved, and the vast majority live in Africa in Asia. At the same time, significant breakthroughs in technology over the last decade have made renewables the cheapest option for new power in more than two-thirds of the world.
 
This new research underlines how the economic and investment case has flipped in favor of renewable technologies.
 
The report combined qualitative case studies with predictive economic modelling to map the job creation potential that would flow from a rapid increase in investment in distributed renewable energy (DRE) across all 63 energy-poor countries in Asia and Africa. This includes scaling up renewable energy mini-grid systems to power solar lanterns, ice-making factories used by fishing communities, milk chillers and irrigation pumps for farmers, refrigerators and life-saving medical equipment in clinics and hospitals, and more.
 
On DRE, Per Heggenes, CEO of IKEA Foundation, said “over the past decade, distributed and renewable energy technologies have been rapidly replacing fossil fuels as the most cost-effective building blocks for powering economic development. DREs in particular have become a faster, nimbler, and more cost-effective solution for driving inclusive growth and reaching under-served populations. As the report highlights, they also have the potential to be at the heart of a global energy transition, which is urgently required.”
 
“Access to energy transforms every facet of life, with reliable electricity often the first step toward helping a community lift itself out of poverty,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.
 
She further said, “Decentralized Renewable Energy solutions are a particularly powerful engine for economic development creating jobs and opportunities to empower women and girls.”
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