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Renewable Energy: ICT, Finance, Others, Priority Areas To Improve Women’s Access

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Clean Technology Hub, a research and incubation clean energy company has identified five priority areas that demand immediate address in order to improve women’s access to renewable energy.

These areas include ICT, agriculture, healthcare, education and financial inclusion.

In a workshop congregating Women Leaders in the Renewable Energy (RE) sector, the hub presented its report on trainings organized for women in Abuja and Abia State in collaboration with the Heinrich Boll Foundation.

The report points to socio-cultural barriers as well as the financial non-inclusion of women in the energy sector, as major barriers to increased participation of women in the renewable energy industry. 

The Hub’s CEO, Ifeoma Malo said Nigerian women are socio-culturally engineered to not aspire to studying or working in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), of which the renewable energy falls within.

Such mindset, Malo noted, has affected women’s participation and inclusion in the value chain of the RE industry.

To gainfully mainstream women who constitute 51 per cent of Nigeria’s population, and 75 per cent of global population into the RE industry, they must be empowered with knowledge of the ICT through trainings, increased enrollment in STEM courses at universities and research, to better deploy RE in agriculture, and MSEs, improve their access to healthcare, and ensure opportunities of financial empowerment to drive more women across all value chains of the RE sector.

“Reports show women want to do more, and want to be more. The workshop is about creating new markets for women leaders in the RE sector, and to enculturate amongst them the mindset, of dragging more women into the sector by working with more women distributors, entrepreneurs, operators and CEOs in the sector,” said Malo.

Addressing finances which is one of the major obstacles precluding women from the clean energy industry, the Executive Secretary of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, Lande Abudu, said women contribute hugely to the reduction of energy poverty in the country, and therefore must be included in the power and energy conversation.

While REAN cannot directly or financially empower women to operate in the RE sector, Abudu stressed, the association via its partnerships provides linkages from which women can access finances needed.

“As REAN, we create awareness by asking women at the grassroots level, how much they need to start their small clean energy businesses, educating them on the available options out there, and providing the linkages that offer the finances they need.”

Meantime, women leaders in the RE observed that the non-consideration of the Nigerian-factor in clean technology innovation, in addition to sole concentration on solar as an alternative energy source, are further obstacles to the expansive use of RE in the country.

“Innovations in clean tech must factor Nigerians growing need for energy, and peculiarity – for increased energy use in businesses, and living standards. They are not content to just power their businesses, they go ahead to improve their lifestyle, powering their electrical appliances,” revealed CEO, Smarter Grids, Onoh Heather.

That there is too much focus on solar energy and less attention on biomass, Malo affirmed, is a matter for serious consideration. “We want to make sure there are women working across all areas of renewable energy, whether wind, biomass, solar, biogas etc. The observation shows there is great opportunity to expand our thinking.”

Abudu expressed optimism that the RE Bill, spearheaded by REAN, which will have its public hearing in July, will encompass, and synergize all aspects of the power conversation, “Gender equality, access to power, RE, rural electrification. It has to stand the test of time, address local content, tariff taxes etc.”

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