How Investment in Skills Can Power Africa's Electric Mobility Transformation

By Daphnée Benayoun, Charlie Habershon Dalberg Advisors

With Africa’s electric vehicle sector poised for rapid expansion, skill development will play a crucial role in ensuring sustainable local employment and overall industry growth.

The pressing question for many low- and middle-income (LMICs) countries is no longer whether to transition to electric mobility (e-mobility), but how to accelerate their transition. Favorable demographics, urbanization, and economic growth are contributing to a promising movement in the e-mobility ecosystem, which has resulted in an EV market forecast growth of 15% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years,1 largely driven by electric two- and three-wheelers and e-buses. Although reliability and affordability remain critical, access to electricity is growing across Sub-Saharan Africa from 36% in 2011 to ~51% in 2021.2 With more and more governments’ commitments coupled with increased investments, the time is ripe to propel a nascent African EV ecosystem toward a sustainable future.

Africa Presents a Robust Enabling Environment for EV Adoption

  • There is a rich preponderance of the raw inputs (crucial battery elements) required for the industry: 70% of global cobalt and abundant manganese, lithium, platinum, and copper. 
  • Governments are setting favorable policy to create a conducive business environment. Rwanda granted tax breaks for EV buyers, Morocco is planning a new EV battery factory after tariff cuts on lithium-ion cells in 2021, and Ethiopia is banning non-electric car imports in 2024. 
  • Capital flows also play a role. Kenya and Nigeria have collectively raised over $80 million for electric vehicle (EV) start-ups, representing approximately 7% of global venture capital investments in EV start-ups in 2022.  

In Africa, the sector is poised to expand beyond its modest existing base, with initial growth expected in electric Mobility as a Service (eMaaS) sectors, business-to-business charging infrastructure, and after-market care. 

“Innovation is not really a choice – even tried and true ideas cannot simply be copy-pasted because they do not quite fit local contexts or there is some adverse environmental impact that we are just now starting to understand. And I think that really moving the needle — whether you’re working on carbon removal or expanding universal health coverage or EV (electric vehicle) mobility — requires us to take some big swings to figure out what works.”

— Sunru Yong, Delving Deeper: Navigating Impact in Africa 

The Growing EV Industry Will Create New Jobs – but Unevenly

“A surge in investment has the potential to create millions of green jobs across the continent. Globally, green jobs have been growing at an impressive rate of 8% annually over the past five years, with projections of 112 million new jobs in selected green sectors by 2030. Africa, with its youthful population, could generate an estimated 75 million green jobs by 2050. However, realizing this potential requires a concerted effort from various stakeholders, like Dalberg.”

— Makena Ireri, Director, Demand, Jobs and Livelihoods at Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), and Naomi Wagura, Director, Solution Led Countries, Africa (GEAPP), Unlocking the Green Jobs Opportunity for African Youth in the Green Transition 

The burgeoning EV industry in Africa is mostly concentrated in countries with favorable conditions for long-term growth. Some countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda, are forerunners in adoption and make up 45% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population and 60% of its vehicle sales. 

Localizing EV supply chains is projected to generate technical and non-technical jobs, contributing to the growth of the EV, charging, and battery value chains. Initial job opportunities will focus on sales, service, and repairs, with long-term prospects in assembly, manufacturing, and end-of-life battery recycling as domestic markets enhance the economics of local production facilities. 

EV-related jobs extend beyond direct employment, generating positive spillover effects in local communities. Indirect job creation provides increased mobility to marginalized groups, improving access to healthcare, education, and labor markets. However, realizing these benefits requires substantial efforts to understand the precise roles, skills, and the number of new workers needed for a successful transition to electric mobility.

Skill Development Must Keep Pace with Opportunities

Existing education and training systems in Africa inadequately prepare workers for EV jobs, resulting in a shortage of skilled labor. eMaaS providers frequently cite the lack of skills as a key operational barrier and bear the cost of training workers.

Only 4% of public expenditure on education in Africa is devoted to vocational training and 70% of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) trainers in Africa have no recent experience in companies related to their sector.  

Challenges in mass skilling include limited access to quality training programs, high student costs, weak awareness, and ineffective mechanisms to match program graduates with employers. Addressing these challenges necessitates a multifaceted approach, involving collaboration between education groups, employers, labor-matching bodies, and funders to ensure workers are equipped with the right skills, practical knowledge, and opportunities to succeed in job markets. 

To guarantee a sufficient pipeline of skilled workers for future EV jobs, Africa’s education systems must establish more entry points to the industry. Various promising training formats, such as in-house training, integration of EV modules into existing TVET courses, short courses to upskill existing workers, and specialization paths in university engineering degrees, need exploration. 

Organizations such as Africa New Energy Vehicles and Advanced Mobility are starting to address this challenge with a new e-mobility training program, marking a significant step in supporting an emergent workforce. In addition, women stand to gain immensely from the EV transition if they are able to access tailored skilling programs and initiatives. As sales of EVs surged by over 200% in India and more factories sprang up, doors started to open for women in manufacturing, design, and leadership roles.

Future Outlook and Partnerships

“LMICs will play an increasingly important role in the [EV] sector’s ongoing development. Governments can support this momentum through targeted policies that ensure that EV supply chains in these countries are as sustainable as possible — and that both the business sector and the consumers it serves are deriving lasting benefits from the EV transition.” 

– Driving the EV Transition in LMICs, Daphnée Benayoun, Kiran Willmot  and Debashish Roychoudhury for Next Billion  

Further work is necessary to refine and deepen the understanding of EV skilling requirements, including an analysis to more precisely estimate the demand for EV jobs and the associated skills. Pilot programs are needed to test and scale high-potential training formats and ensure effective job-matching functions. Only through strategic partnerships, careful collaboration, and targeted investments can countries equip themselves with the tools, knowledge, and initiatives needed to create mass skilling opportunities for future jobs.  

There are already a number of initiatives across the continent working to build a skilled EV workforce, including GIZ’s “Promoting Electric Mobility Program” in Kenya which has training and knowledge exchange as one of its key pillars. These are happening through a variety of channels and at different levels of scale.  

Dalberg is actively seeking partners to develop a consolidated view of this evolving landscape and help governments, donors, and private sector actors align around the opportunities to fully unleash the job creation and upskilling potential of the e-mobility transition on the continent.

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Associate Partner
Dalberg Advisors



Associate Partner
Dalberg Advisors



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