Advancing the Roles of Women in African Power

A worker at the Olkaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya (Photo: Carole Douglis/USAID West Africa); a Songas employee in Tanzania (Phot
A worker at the Olkaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya (Photo: Carole Douglis/USAID West Africa); a Songas employee in Tanzania (Photo: Songas); Florence Ayella, a Solar Sister Entrepreneur
Photo: Show the Good

Women have a significant role to play in the power sector — from policy makers and executives of private sector partners, to utility managers and employees of power plants and distribution systems, to renewable energy entrepreneurs and customers of electricity services. Their contributions are broad and impactful.

A sector that fails to meet the needs or capitalize on the talents of half the population will not be sustainable. Gender integration within the energy sector not only creates immediate opportunities for women, but it also strengthens a sector that supports better health care, education, and entrepreneurial opportunities for women writ large; further advancing national development goals.

To further integrate women into the energy sector, Power Africa is working to:

  • Increase women’s participation in energy sector policy development and project planning processes;
  • Increase consideration of gender issues in the design of energy sector policies and projects;
  • Increase women’s participation in the energy sector work force; and
  • Increase women’s access to the benefits of energy services

Officially launched at COP 21 in 2015, Power Africa’s Women in African Power Network aims to increase the participation and elevate the presence of women in the power sector. The women who lead in this sector present business and mentoring opportunities that can help other women reach the highest levels of organizations, and help some of the poorest women in Africa connect to opportunities that generations before them never had. The Women in African Power Network connects CEOs and African Ministers of Energy to young women studying electrical engineering and women selling solar lanterns in remote villages, with the goal of creating a regional platform for networking, information exchange, professional mentorship, and exposure to new business opportunities.

Power Africa’s investments in the gender and energy space also include supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Engendering Utilities program. The program seeks to increase professional opportunities for women in the energy distribution sector by looking at utilities’ labor practices and identifying ways of recruiting, retaining, and nurturing women in the workforce. By improving labor market participation by women, power sector utilities can increase operational efficiencies that will ultimately bring greater economic value to energy companies — a win-win for women and the African energy sector.  

Building cleaner, more climate-resilient power sectors that serve all people will require the inclusion and participation of all stakeholders — including women and others that have traditionally been sidelined from the energy industry. By taking a sector-wide approach to gender integration, Power Africa aims to create a more responsive, and ultimately more sustainable, energy landscape in Africa.

To learn more about Power Africa’s investments in women or the Women in African Power Network, please contact Denise Mortimer at dmortimer@usaid.gov.

Last updated: June 03, 2016

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