Women in Energy Network (WIEN) and the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) have made a call for advocates of women to openly show solidarity in the signing of the African Gender Charter.
The clarion call to sign the pro-women Charter was made by both associations at the recently held symposium themed “Light Up Africa” which was done to commemorate the International Women’s Day.
Speaking at the launch of the Charter, Udom Inoyo a member of the Board of Trustee for WIEN said it was important for firms to identify with the aspirations of women in the energy space. He noted that the Charter provides an auspicious platform for companies to move beyond the rhetoric and to show solidarity with the women.
“Today’s signing ceremony on one hand speaks to the journey of most of you (women) on this platform and your accomplishments and I think you should be proud of yourselves. On the other hand, it is a sad reminder of the state of affairs in our country, especially with students unable to stay in school or concentrate on their studies for fear of being taken by bandits. The call for the girl child was already steep, but now we need to dig ourselves out of the hole and that in itself most be a daunting task, but we should never, never, give up,” he said while publicly committing to the charter.
In the same vein, Amina Maina, another member of the Board of Trustee for WIEN committed to an increase in the number of women at the decision-making level of organisations.
She explained that the reason she chose this commitment is because she believes that the more women in position of influence who fight for the cause of other women, the faster it will become for women to achieve their aspirations.
“I am committing to champion the increase in the number of women at the decision-making level, within circle of influence and the general society,” she said.
Some commitments on the Charter include: to ensure gender equality and inclusion; to contribute to gender inclusion in the transition to cleaner energy; to inspire and sponsor to study STEM related courses; and inclusion of women at the decision-making level, amongst others.
Chioma Ome, the Manager of Performance and Training at Solar Sisters who also doubles as Head of Communications at REAN, however noted that it will remain an ongoing process, as “the association continues to welcome willing corporates who want to sign the charter”.
She added that a follow-up with the signatories as regards the signed commitment is not to “give room for intrusion”; but that “signatory companies are allowed to go at their own pace while the secretariat documents progress”.
This year’s symposium which had Light Up Africa as its theme was graced by Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Danmilola Ogunbiyi, Chief Executive of UN-Energy as both delivered keynote addresses.
Speaking on increased energy access in Nigeria and the role of women in one of the panel sessions, the Managing Director of Waltersmith Patroman, Chikezie Nwosu, said, “It is important for Africa to realise we haven’t managed to consume the amount of energy that is required to consume. Therefore, the first thing that Africa needs to do, is about consuming. We need to start consuming the God-given resources of energy; whether it is fossil fuels, which are still part of the energy mix, or whether it is renewables like wind and solar, which are very predominant in terms of natural resources in Africa.”
Also speaking in a panel session, the Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Sosai Technologies, Habiba Ali, who spoke on energy transition, discussed some of the challenges renewable energy companies in the country are facing and how they are coping.
“We have the output-based fund, which helps to solve the problem of what it costs to actually deploy solutions, because it is one thing to manufacture the solution, it is another to deploy it. It is very hard to get into those rural areas and sell these products and that is where we have had to suffer all these years,” she said.
“Most importantly, affordability has come because of the pay-as-you-go model. There is also the issue of energy at your service when it comes to the mini-grid.”
On her part, the Country Director of Solar Sister, Olasimbo Sojinrin, while discussing workplace policies, emphasized the need for companies to adopt positive discrimination to address the issue of discrimination against women in workplace.
She said, “For us, it is like the very first basic policy that every organization should have, that is no-discrimination and equal employment opportunity policy, which I think is actually essential. For us at Solar Sisters, we are positively adding more women to the green workforce, ensuring that we are grooming a workforce that is green, that has the expertise, but it is also mostly women.”
Other highlights of the event include the Winning with Women Awards (WIWA) and the Supernova Girl launch.
Winners of the WIWA award include: Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr Simbi Wabote, who won the Gender Advocate of the Year 2020 category; the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Ashdam Solar Company Ltd, Damilola Ashaleye who won the Woman Making Most Impact category; and Senator Sabo Mohammed Nakudu, Chairman Joint Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Nigerian Senate, who won the Most Inclusive Agency category.
Others include the CEO of Anergy Solar, Femi Adeyemo who won Corporate with Most Diverse Management Team; the Executive Director of Sahara Group, Tope Shonubi who won the Sponsor for Women in Leadership category; and the Managing Director of Waltersmith Patroman Ltd, Chikezie Nwosu who won the category for Best Place for Women to Work award.
Equally launched on the same day is the ‘Supernova Girl’ initiative which creates an avenue for funding of girls in STEM. It also seeks to pair volunteering mentors with girls in STEM to bring out the best in them.
WIEN is an association established in 2020 to provide a platform for Women that work across the Energy Industry value chain; to network and build confidence and links to progress their careers or businesses.
REAN on the other hand, is an independent, not-for-profit organization founded by renewable energy professionals, project developers and practitioners in Nigeria’s renewable energy sector, dedicated to promoting the growth and development of the industry in Nigeria by engaging with the public and private sector to guide advocacy, policy formulation and investment in the sector.