The digital era in the late 1990s presented a great opportunity for the emergence of digital jobs. Africa, particularly Kenya, got it right by deploying a myriad of policies and programs to increase digital literacy. Today, Kenya brags as the “Silicon Savannah”, a title rightly earned given the world-class digital solutions that have emerged over the past two decades. This did not happen out of the blue, but rather, it was the outcome of concerted efforts by the government, private sector and development sector that yielded results.
In like manner, the emerging green economy presents a fantastic opportunity for the creation of new jobs in the green sector. According to the International Labour Organisation, jobs are green when they help reduce negative environmental impact, ultimately leading to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies. Green jobs limit greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials and protect and restore ecosystems.
While technical skills in emerging sectors will be in renewable energy, climate-smart agriculture, e-mobility, and green building solutions, it is imperative to consider green-collar jobs as well. These are jobs that, though not directly contributing to reducing or avoiding GHG, facilitate those who do. These include managerial or administrative positions in green organizations.
Just as they did in the digital era, African countries must seize the opportunity climate change presents. We must institutionalise relevant climate literacy programs, develop policies that facilitate climate finance, and attract investments in emerging technologies such as direct air capture. Africa is blessed to have a young, vibrant workforce, immense potential for renewable energy and large tracts of arable land. Workforce preparation strategies such as bespoke green curricula and upskilling programs must be deliberate. If handled well, these strategies could be the fastest way to reduce youth unemployment in Africa significantly.