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Ethiopia: Job creation through off-grid energy access


Ethiopia has a fast-growing economy and a large workforce but is struggling to meet the demands of its labour market. Unemployment is reported to average 19.1% in some urban areas. Additionally, over half of the youth in Ethiopia are unemployed or underemployed. Women see higher unemployment figures, with unemployment levels reaching double that of men in some urban areas. With 600,000 new workers entering the labour force every year, the economy needs to grow to provide opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people.

The government, through the Jobs Creation Commission (JCC), aims to explore the untapped job creation potential of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through productive use of energy (PUE) technologies. These technologies are defined as solar powered systems that enable agricultural, commercial, or industrial activity. Across three high-potential value chains, PUE technologies present opportunities to mechanize tasks and expand production capacity, creating about 190,000 jobs. This analysis focused on three value chains that have the highest potential for impact and job growth – horticulture, wheat, and milk.

  • Horticulture: Introducing solar water pumps in the horticulture value chain has the potential to meet a large irrigation need and would help create approximately 130,000 new jobs across the value chain.
  • Wheat: PUE solutions can address challenges of unreliable power and create approximately 50,000 jobs across the wheat value chain.
  • Milk: milk chilling from source to retail can address challenges of spoilage and wastage and create an estimated 11,000 jobs.

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