While South Africa annually celebrates National Women’s Day in August, the world celebrates an international event during March. This year, during Africa’s premier energy event, the African Energy Week (AEW), it again advocated for women to shape the direction of the industry.
At a meeting earlier this month, the AEW maintained its strong position that The continent’s energy potential is unmatched, but development goals would not and cannot be realised until equal participation and leadership in this industry.
The energy sector is one of the most unequal globally with regards to gender inclusivity and participation. A mere 22% of the current workforce in this industry is female. This can be attributed to a variety of factors such as gender disparity and not enough women participating in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes.
According to a 2021 study conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), women remained underrepresented among STEM graduates, with 30% of male students graduating from STEM subjects versus only 16% of their female counterparts. It is expected that unless this is addressed at an educational level, the inequality especially in the energy workforce, will continue.
Despite efforts to increase female workforce participation across various sectors much of this progress. According to a study by research firm, PWC, the pandemic had reversed women’s empowerment progress to 2017 levels, heightening the need for additional empowerment efforts within the energy sector, considered to be critical.
“Challenges that are associated with Africa’s energy growth require innovative solutions and the participation of a pool of diverse talent including women. Now is the time to ensure we have more women participating in the sector. We need more women at all levels across the energy value chain, in leadership roles, in engineering and in administrative roles. For the energy revolution to be a success, it needs to be just, inclusive and equitable,” NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC), said.
Female leadership to shape energy sector
AEW 2022 and AEC continue to strongly advocate for female leadership within the energy sector. The AEC is a signatory of the Equal by 30 campaign; a public commitment by public and private sector organizations to work towards equal pay, equal leadership and equal opportunities for women. The AEC has also vowed to increase females on its board of directors with the recent appointment of Grace Orife, the CEO of Adelaar Energy, an Energy & Petroleum consulting firm.
The recent partnership between AEW 2022 and Women in Green Hydrogen is testimony of the continued efforts of AEW and the AEC to increase female participation in shaping energy events. Backed by this partnership, women will represent at least 30% of participants and speakers on panels at AEW and other AEC events. This way, the AEC commits to ensure women are not only a part of, but lead discussions on African energy.
Latest AEW to be held in October in SA
At this year’s AEW in October, women will lead discussions, network with key stakeholders and be in charge of decision making and signing deals. AEW 2022 will also hold panel discussions and presentations on gender diversity in Africa’s energy sector and its importance in ending energy poverty in Africa by 2030. Having partnered with the African Petroleum Producers Organization, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria, AEW 2022 is well positioned to lead dialogue on women, energy, and Africa’s energy future.AEW 2022 is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event, uniting African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as destination for energy investments.