Careers in the Off-grid Energy Sector in 2021

Each year, 10 to 12 million young Africans join the job market. According to an unemployment data report published by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2020, Nigeria’s youth remain the hardest hit by unemployment with over 13.9 million people aged between 15 and 34 years unemployed.

Over the past decade, the renewable energy industry, especially solar has greatly progressed. It is no news that millions of people in Nigeria live without access to electricity. For those who have access to the national grid, the power supply is unreliable. Getting power to these people would require deploying systems like solar home systems, hybrid mini-grids and in some cases extending the national grid. 

Out of the 600 million people without access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 80 million are in Nigeria. With the roll-out of electrification programmes including the Nigeria Electrification Project, Mini-Grid Acceleration Scheme and Solar Power Naija, manpower, skills and expertise would be needed to get electricity to these people. These career roles span engineering, legal, finance, public relations, IT, human resources, procurement, operation, sales, management, customer service and research. Are you interested in a career in the off-grid energy sector? Here are some roles and skills we see that will be in great demand in 2021.

Accounting and Finance

In raising the amount of finance needed to scale off-grid solutions, experts who are knowledgeable in financial modelling, finance management, grant applications, investment management etc will be needed by companies in the industry. These people usually have a background in Accounting, Finance, Economics and business-related courses. 

Developers

In this digital era, the off-grid energy sector could use some digital skills including programming, web & application development, database management, cloud operations and more. Tech skills are needed in setting up payments/transaction systems – mobile or web, designing engaging and interactive websites, developing dashboards and data models in development stages, developing interactive smart metering solutions, understanding customer behaviours, monitoring projects remotely and generally more innovation to the sector. Some job roles to execute this are software engineers, DevOps engineers, Web Developers, UI/UX Designers, Data Ops, Database administrators etc. 

Research and Development Specialist

The off-grid industry requires growth in technology innovation suited for our market. Technology-wise, innovation in low-cost Battery Energy Storage Systems, interactive smart metering APIs would be needed. Solar is scaling in Sub-Saharan Africa but there’s a lot more to be done in determining the sustainability of its applications in off-grid systems. How do we increase the purchasing power of the rural customers to be able to afford acceptability and usage of the off-grid systems? What kind of equipment is best suited for them? What funding structures would be a win-win for the developers, customers and financiers? How do we ensure mini-grids are sustainable and profitable? All of these require the expertise of highly skilled researchers.

Engineers and Technicians

With the abundance of sunlight in Nigeria, there is a massive outlook for solar power in increasing the number of Nigerians with access to electricity. After developing technologies, conducting site assessments and raising finance, the implementation phase of the projects is of utmost importance. Solar-powered systems would need to be installed requiring personnel with expertise in site audits, system design, installation, operation and maintenance. Some of the job roles are electrical technicians, electrical engineers, system designers, distribution engineers, solar PV installers, civil engineers etc.

Communications and Public Relations Personnel

In this era of online media and traditional media, brand positioning is essential to attract the type of audience – customers, investors, referrals their businesses need. What better way to achieve this than with the input of marketing communications or public relations professionals. This involves roles like editors, content creators, creative storytellers, visual communicators (cinematography or photography), community managers, graphic designers etc.

This is not an exhaustive list as there are still roles in legal, after-sales service, customer relations, agriculture and a lot more in the off-grid energy sector. There are several opportunities within the sector to take advantage of in the year 2021.



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