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Senegal: Strengthening the role of women in the energy sector (By Miguel Artacho)

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Senegal: Strengthening the role of women in the energy sector (By Miguel Artacho)

Local content and women‘s empowerment which have been at the heart of Minister Aissatou Sophie Gladima’s agenda will only benefit the energy industry

DAKAR, Senegal, September 29, 2021 / APO Group / –

By Miguel Artacho

Energy poverty is one of the biggest challenges preventing faster economic development across sub-Saharan Africa. In rural areas, it is particularly crucial that women have adequate access to energy, given their crucial role in leading families and managing the household economy.

The government of Senegal has made the development of the energy sector a key element of the Plan Senegal Emergent (https://bit.ly/3ukEBoW), which aims to modernize the country’s economy and reach a large number of ambitious socio-economic development goals. , while ensuring greater gender equality. Priorities include reducing the cost of energy by reducing dependence on imported liquid fuels and increasing access to electricity, especially in rural areas. Senegal has significant potential to develop solar and wind energy, as well as significant offshore natural gas resources that will come into service in 2023. Senegalese authorities aim to achieve universal access by 2025 through a combination of on-grid and off-grid solutions.

In Senegal, one of the most influential voices advocating for greater inclusion of women in the energy sector value chain is the current Minister of Petroleum and Energy, HE Aissatou Sophie Gladima, who has adopted a proactive approach to local content and offers greater opportunities for women in energy. The African Energy Chamber recently noted (https://bit.ly/3ATrwFN) that: “Local content and the empowerment of women who have been at the heart of Minister Aissatou Sophie Gladima’s agenda will not benefit than the energy industry because the opportunities and jobs are better than development aid.

Coaching

The Power Africa initiative, USAID makes a special effort to maximize the participation of women in the energy sector across Africa, and in Senegal in particular. In March 2020, 40 young professional women from 17 French-speaking African countries participated in the YALI-Power Africa Young Women in African Power Leadership training held in Dakar, Senegal. This training was carried out in partnership with the African Center for Higher Studies in Management (African Center for Higher Studies in Management). The objective of the program is to facilitate the participation of women in careers in the energy sector. Power Africa (https://bit.ly/3ukEBoW) has developed and facilitated nine training modules based on key concepts in the energy sector, such as energy as a catalyst for development and a hands-on approach to work in the energy space. These were aimed at providing insight into modern energy trends, sharpening leadership skills, and empowering these women to take on new roles and take on new challenges as they progress through their careers in the world. energy sector.

The energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa remains largely male-dominated, with far too few women in leadership positions. Women are currently estimated to make up less than a quarter of the world’s energy workforce, and this trend is the same among emerging markets. There are many obstacles to the participation of women in this strategic sector for the economy of any country. These include a lack of awareness of opportunities in energy-related fields, as well as limited access to resources to continue teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics. necessary to enter and prosper in the sector. The government of Senegal and entities like Power Africa continue to work to support (https://bit.ly/3D0qIj3) young professional women in the oil, gas and power sector as they advocate for more great gender equality in the industry.

Renewable energy

Senegal is one of the countries at the forefront of the development of renewable energies in sub-Saharan Africa. In Senegal, limited access to energy in rural areas has hampered economic development for too long, with only 44% of households in rural Senegal having access to reliable electricity. Rural communities are often limited to rudimentary sources of energy such as wood fires for cooking, lighting, heat and other needs. In this context, for Senegalese rural businesses, renewable energies could significantly improve food production and streamline work efficiency. Solar-powered water pumps could replace tedious and grueling tasks like drawing water from a well one bucket at a time. Rural agricultural enterprises urgently need these technological upgrades, as well as equal access to energy between men and women in rural areas. One example is market gardening, a popular agricultural technique used by smallholder farmers in Senegal, who are mostly headed by women. In fact, women in Senegal represent (https://bit.ly/39MHk0Z) 70% of the total rural workforce, making them the cornerstone of the country’s agricultural and livestock sectors.

Women-led initiatives

The Energy 4 Impact is a non-profit organization that partners with local businesses to expand access to energy in Africa. He works with other NGOs that promote and protect the rights of women in Senegal through the Energy Opportunities for Women in Senegal project. It aims not only to provide rural communities in Senegal with sustainable and efficient energy, but also to increase the contribution of women throughout Senegal’s energy value chain. So far, the program has empowered more than 250 women-led micro and SMEs in rural areas. The aim is that by increasing the presence of sustainable energy sources, more economic opportunities will arise for farms managed by women. The project provided Senegalese women and the many SMEs they lead with reusable energy technologies, including solar-powered pumps, solar lights and solar-powered freezers, as well as improved equipment for processing crops. In addition, in addition to providing essential equipment, the project organized seminars providing Senegalese women with information on entrepreneurship to empower them as businesswomen. The project emphasizes that “women are at the heart of the Senegalese agricultural scene, and this empowerment campaign has further strengthened their position as key players in the country throughout the energy value chain”.

Another female-run business that has a significant impact on women’s empowerment in West Africa is ElleSolaire (www.ElleSolaire.org). The company was founded by Kelly Nwachuku-Lavelle who is also the Managing Director. After a ten-year international career in investment banking and financial services, she found deep meaning in the fight against discrimination and gender-based violence. For more than a decade, her organization’s work has been driven by a desire to create concrete positive change for women from the most marginalized communities in developing country contexts. She is a strong advocate of female entrepreneurship as a lever for the economic and social empowerment of women.

An estimated 200 million people live in energy poverty without access to electricity in West Africa. Yet they are surrounded by an abundant source of natural energy: sunlight. There are simple, proven and affordable technologies that harness the power of the sun to generate energy for home use. What is missing is a distribution channel for these products. By investing in a distribution network led by women, Elle Solaire (https://bit.ly/2WkRm6o) creates a supply chain for products such as solar lights, solar home systems and clean cookers, which otherwise could not reach those who need it most.

In response to the growing demand for renewable energy and the growing interest of international stakeholders to invest, develop and succeed in Africa, Energy Capital & Power will host the MSGBC Oil, Gas, & Power 2021 (https: // bit. ly / 3m5XnwJ) conference and exhibition on December 2 and 3, 2021. Focused on strengthening regional partnerships, stimulating investment and development in the oil, gas and electricity sectors, the conference will bring together regional international actors with African opportunities, serving as a growth oriented platform for Africa’s energy sector.

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