“Over 645 million Africans do not have energy. The un-normal has become normal,” said Geraldine Joslyn Fraser-Moleketi (pictured, right), who was Minister for the Public Service from 1999 to 2008 at the Africa Energy Indaba held recently in Johannesburg. “Right now we need to light up Africa,” she said.
“We should be building up an integral part of the workforce through our youth. There are young girls spending up to 5 hours a day gathering daily resources just to survive. We still have a lack of energy in terms of lighting, heating, water and cooking.”
According to Geraldine women can change the energy business in Africa, but the labour market needs to be looked at and prepared and the skills set appropriately. We need to develop African women leaders, especially in the energy sector through various renewables such as solar and wind.
Womeng is one such international agency that promotes engineering in young girls. There are opportunities to volunteer or mentor – see their website below.
“Energy poverty is said to get worse over the next 20 years. The decision must be at high level to initiate change and funding and the private sector must look at gender changing paradigms.”
In closure Geraldine said, “Yes we will change the energy business, but not within the current comfort zone. It is within a different approach that the change can take place”.
Then spoke H.E. Dr Elham Mahmood Ahmned Ibrahim, Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission (picture, above) about the role of women in Energy sector in Africa:
“The energy sector provides ample opportunities for women, decision making and entrepreneurship.
Ghana, Rwanda, SA all are developing women leaders and ministers, but much more can be done.
In addition we need to ensure women in the energy sector specifically. When we empower women in the energy sector, we enhance food security and promote the social and the political status of women.”
Dr Elham felt that we need to address the barriers and identify the opportunities. “There are cultural barriers and stereotypes where traditionally engineering is seen as exclusive to men. So women tend to avoid building in this field. We need to identify women’s needs to include road maps to exploit opportunities and challenges for women in this sector.
We need to encourage women in large numbers. Scholarships can be used as incentives to attract young girls and women. Women also need role models to be inspired, especially by other women in this sector.
Women’s groups like Women in Oil and Energy(WOESA), Clean Energy Education and Empowerment(C3ESA) are powerful mediums to spread the message to include women in the value chain.”
“At this time we need the participation of women. Women can add 12 trillion dollars to global growth. They provide 75% of voluntary work. We need to lower entry barriers to allow women entrepreneurs into the workforce,” said Thembisile Majola (pictured below), Deputy Minister of Energy.
Empowering and steering the women leaders of tomorrow
“When I started out working at the power station I was the only female engineer there. I had to work twice as hard and got the worse assignments. But through those assignments I proved myself.
It is important to be a visionary, and communicate with all people. Don’t be afraid to make decisions, accept your mistakes and move forward.
– Gloria Magombo (pictured below), Chief Executive Officer, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority
“How do you keep reinventing yourself to be effective? Look at the quality of relationships that you build.”
– Erica Johnson , Energy Advisor and Operations resilience expert
“The key point in steering women is to be supportive. To develop women they need to be given the work and training. Another key point is to find the women with the skills or talent through a recruiting agency and to develop and train them up to management status.”
– Sasha Singh, Director, ENSafrica
“We need to reframe the gender issue. Local companies need a diverse range of views and cultures, including age and personalities in order to achieve strategic development.”
– Wendy Poulton, General Manager, Eskom
“What is needed is a direct approach, such as sponsoring a woman’s degree. An indirect approach would be to create opportunities for women equity, like the IPP Renewables program.”
– Denise Mortimer, Energy Programmes Specialist, Power Africa
“What roles can we provide to the women we have left behind in the villages? The successful growth of Africa is dependent on the growth of electricity.”
-Linda Seroka, Associate Director Deloitte
Getting more women on Corporate Boards
“On the Fortune 500 between 2004 to 2008 statistics showed that if 3 female directors were on the board, there was a 60% higher return on investment. As well as an 84% higher return on sales.
With more females in the sectors there is better product development, better ethical sourcing, it supports local communities and better board decisions are taken.
The biggest challenge is retaining, let alone recruiting.”
– Thiru Pillay, Africa Consulting Leader, Deloitte
“I have seen how the focus is on men first and women are a last resort in the recruitment business. Society is not ready for women as leaders. Women have less role models and less feedback in terms of their performance. They are put on the back burner. With work well done, they have a pat on the back and yet are not mentored to go further.
Ideas for women to get on board
What are your competencies?
Align your career actively to that
Identify who can advise you
Talk to someone about what your needs are
Be sure that it is truly something that you want.”
– Heloise Nel (pictured above), Egon Zehnder
Women have their hands full these days with raising our next generation and developing and building empires. They are standing up and their value in the home and in the workplace is being recognised. Women should not be afraid to push themselves forward. They need to be heard and their actions need to be seen.
By Hulunn Choo