A new report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has urged governments to invest in solar skills development and promote local enterprise participation in solar panel supply chains.
The report found that the growth in the solar panel market presents a vast opportunity for the economy through private sector development and job creation. However, much of the market is held by internationally owned companies, and most domestic companies operate in services, such as project development, consultancy, and after-sales services.
UNCTAD recommends that governments work with multinational companies to develop local skills and create jobs in the solar sector. This could involve developing training programs, providing financial incentives, and establishing joint ventures.
The report also notes that Kenya has adopted the Energy (Local Content) Regulations 2014 to boost indigenous solar photovoltaic production. However, high capital investments and the lack of bankability of small projects have made it difficult for domestic companies to compete in the market.
UNCTAD recommends that the government provide financial support and other incentives to domestic companies in the solar sector. This could help to reduce the cost of capital and make projects more bankable.
The report also highlights the job creation potential of the solar sector. A one-megawatt mini-grid plant generates around 800 full-time employees annually, according to previous research by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca).
Kenya is planning to begin building its first nuclear power station in 2027 as part of its efforts to diversify its energy production and meet its goal for zero-carbon energy. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave Kenya permission to proceed with building the infrastructure for the facilities in 2021.
The UNCTAD report makes a number of important recommendations for governments and businesses in Kenya. By investing in solar skills development, promoting local enterprise participation in supply chains, and providing financial support to domestic companies, the government can help to create jobs and boost the solar sector in Kenya.