Nurturing talent in the African solar industry – Jan-Albert Valk the Founder and CEO at Solarise Africa
22 Feb 2024

In recent years, the African solar industry has witnessed an unprecedented surge in demand and innovation. This surge, driven by a collective consciousness towards sustainable energy and the pressing need to address power deficits (more prevalent in some countries than others), has created a burgeoning array of job opportunities across the continent.

At Solarise Africa, we believe that the industry will continue to expand in 2024, and the pivotal challenge remains not just in filling these roles but in attracting and retaining top talent amidst intense competition.

In order to navigate this landscape and nurture and maintain a skilled workforce, it can help to keep the following in mind:

Understanding the Landscape

The rapid expansion of the African solar industry transcends mere energy production; we believe it also symbolises a pivotal transformation in the continent’s economic and social fabric. This growth isn’t solely about harnessing a renewable resource; it’s a catalyst for empowerment, community development, and economic resurgence.

The solar industry operates at the convergence of various disciplines, necessitating a diverse skill set. From cutting-edge technological innovation and engineering prowess to astute salesmanship, project management finesse, and astute policy development, the industry demands a multifaceted workforce.

Moreover, it’s not just about generating power but also about creating resilient, self-sustaining communities. Solar initiatives foster job creation, boost local economies, and provide access to reliable energy, driving progress in healthcare, education, and industry.

Understanding this landscape underscores the imperative for Solarise Africa and other industry players to not merely seek talent but to actively cultivate a workforce equipped to tackle the multi-dimensional challenges of sustainable energy and community development.

Attraction and Retention Strategies:

  1. Promoting Purpose-Driven Work

One of the most compelling ways to attract talent is by highlighting the industry’s impact. As an industry, we should articulate our commitment to sustainable energy and the transformational effect it has on communities. Emphasising the opportunity for employees to be a part of this positive change can be a powerful recruitment tool, no matter the generational segment of your workforce:

  • Baby Boomers (Born 1946–1964): Baby Boomers are often motivated by a sense of duty and a desire to leave a legacy. Highlighting the impact of solar initiatives on future generations and the opportunity to contribute towards a sustainable legacy can resonate with this group.
  • Generation X (Born 1965–1980): Gen Xers value work-life balance and seek opportunities that allow for personal growth. Emphasising how working in the solar industry provides a chance to learn new skills, advance professionally, and maintain a healthy work-life equilibrium can be appealing.
  • Millennials (Born 1981–1996): Millennials are often driven by a desire for meaningful work and a positive societal impact. Highlighting the contribution of solar energy towards environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and global change resonates strongly with this generation.
  • Generation Z (Born 1997 onwards): Gen Z is highly tech-savvy and seeks purpose in their work. Emphasising the innovative and tech-driven nature of the solar industry, along with its potential to create a better future, can attract this generation.

By tailoring messaging and initiatives to align with these generational motivators, the industry can effectively communicate the purpose-driven nature of our work, making it more appealing to a diverse workforce across different age groups.

  1. Creating Inclusive Work Cultures

Creating an inclusive work culture within the African solar industry is crucial for fostering a supportive environment where diversity is celebrated and every individual feels valued. To achieve this, we need to focus on diversity in hiring and leadership. Africa is home to diverse talent pools and by actively recruiting from within, through fair and unbiased recruitment processes, and by promoting leadership that reflects diverse backgrounds, we can set an example that diversity is valued at all levels within our organisations.

We also need to encourage open communication and feedback. Create channels for employees to voice concerns and suggestions regarding diversity and inclusion. Actively listen and take action, demonstrating a commitment to addressing issues and valuing every employee’s input. By implementing these strategies, we can create an inclusive work culture that not only attracts diverse talent but also nurtures a collaborative, innovative, and supportive environment within the African solar industry.

  1. Professional Development Opportunities

Offering continuous learning and growth opportunities within the organisation is key to retaining talent. Training, mentorship programmes, and career advancement pathways demonstrate a commitment to employee development and can significantly boost employee retention rates.

  1. Cultivating a Supportive Work Environment

A positive work environment fosters employee satisfaction and loyalty. Encouraging work-life balance, providing flexible work arrangements, and prioritising employee well-being are pivotal in retaining talent, especially in high-pressure industries. At Solarise Africa, we live and breathe our company DNA, and it is clearly defined in our Culture Code. By ensuring that our employees feel supported, no matter what, we know we can all walk the extra mile together.


The African solar industry’s expansion is an exciting prospect, but it also brings forth the challenge of securing and retaining top talent. Solarise Africa and other industry leaders have a crucial role in not only attracting, but also nurturing a skilled workforce. By focusing on purpose-driven work, inclusive cultures, professional growth, and a supportive environment, the industry can build a sustainable workforce capable of driving innovation and meeting the continent’s energy needs.