By Chinelo Chikelu
Ify Malo, the Campaign Director, Power For All, Nigeria, a global renewable energy advocacy organization, has said energy poverty can be largely reduced via gender specific approaches to renewable energy generation and systems distribution.
Revealing energy poverty number in Nigeria at 60 percent, of which 90 percent reside in the rural areas while the other 40 percent with access to on-grid electricity are situated in urban areas, Malo says women are highly affected by poor power supply. She also emphasized that lack of electricity in the rural areas, mid and lower class families, lengthens the amount of time women spend on household chores and subsistence agricultural production.
Rather than wait for on-grid power systems to get to the rural areas, Malo recommends that government, civil societies and communities invest in mini off-grid renewable systems that can power households, cottage industries, schools and healthcare centers to avoid maternal-and-child mortality, and encourage female entrepreneurship in Nigeria.
According to Malo, off-grid renewable systems with their seven-year guarantee (solar systems) and simple maintenance requirement is more cost-saving for families than diesel operating systems.
The director further adds that involving women in renewable energy generation and distribution will ensure greater impact in the society. “When it comes to decision-making in household matters, if women are not involved, it will be ten times harder to make an impact. Women know where the shoes pinch the most. When you have more women developers and distributors of off-grid renewables, society will improve for the better.”
As part of efforts to ensure an inclusive renewable energy sector in Nigeria, Malo says Power For All besides its ongoing matching mentorship programme for young people interested in renewable energy business, will organize gender specific programmes that will attract, inform and educate young women about the sector.
The organization, she says encourages bodies such as the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) to run internship and advocacy programmes accessible to both genders.
“Issues of poverty and environmental sustainability requires gender-specific approaches. The more women’s voices are heard or considered in decision-making, the faster solutions are found,” Malo asserted.