Opportunities for Women in the Renewable Energy Sector
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, some 11 million persons globally are employed in the renewable energy sector. This number is projected to reach 42 million by 2050. In Mauritius, the energy sector employs about 2,000 people (0.4% of total employment), with women representing a mere 5% of this workforce.
In this context, the Mauritius 2020-2021 National Budget Speech has made provisions to boost the economy by going back to investments in the traditional sectors through the introduction of agricultural self-sufficiency schemes, promotion of local manufacturing, innovative sectors, and tourism-based activities. Most notably, however, the budget speech also laid emphasis on enhancing economic resilience with the increased use of renewable energy with the objective of reaching 40% of renewables in the energy mix by 2030.
New Skills for New Labour
The development of the renewable energy sector will require increased labour, some of which can be sourced from the economic sectors adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic. Investing in the Renewable Energy Sector can provide not only the much-needed impetus towards achieving the Paris Agreement objectives, but also boost the economy by providing new job opportunities for those who have been laid off in other sectors.
Women, who are underrepresented in the renewable energy sector and are also faced with job losses in the tourism sector, should be the focus of reskilling for the new labour opportunities presented by investments in the sector.
Phase I of the UNDP-supported, Green Climate Fund (GCF) ‘Accelerating the transformational shift to a low-carbon economy’ project provides training to women on the installation, operation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems; and to better understand the technical aspects of PV systems. Beginning in 2021, Phase II of the GCF project will include the deployment of ~25 MW of rooftop-mounted solar PV panels over five years. Through an integrated development solution, UNDP aims to support increased employment for women, while supporting the objective of the Government of Mauritius to achieve 40% in renewable energy by 2030. This transition will not only support sustainable livelihoods but also contribute to the socioeconomic recovery of Mauritius.