Source: Namibia Economist
The African Energy Week (AEW) which will take place from 9 to 12 November in Cape Town, aims to put women in a fundamental role to drive the future of Africa's energy.
AEW 2021 considers women to be the key drivers of Africa's energy revolution and should therefore, comprise notable participants in the workforce. They added that despite making up 50% of the population, women continue to represent a minimal role in the African energy industry, accounting for merely 21% of the overall workforce in energy utilities.
"Continued gender disparity, inequality and barriers to entry not only directly prevent women from participating in the energy industry, but dramatically constrain economic and sector growth," said the African Energy Chamber organisers of the AEW.
As the World Bank's Energy Sector Management Assistance Programe noted that the average share of women working in technical positions in the energy industry was 15% with most women working in administrative positions, rather than driving gender inclusivity, the energy industry actually represents one of the most unequal fields worldwide, hindering any effective growth from taking place.
Ironically the World Economic Forum (WEF) said that companies with strong female leadership deliver a 36% higher return on equity, and companies with at least one female executive board member out perform those with male only boards. Additional, energy sector organizations that improve gender equality tend to boost innovation, therefore the role of women is clear and yet there continues to be significant barriers to entry that AEW 2021 aims to address.
The Chamber also noted that on of the most notable challenges faced by women in the energy industry comprises the continuous under representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. They said with STEM comprising the driving force of the energy sector, particularly in the modern era with technological and renewable solutions relying heavily on innovation, human capital development is essential and yet women continue to be excluded.
The AEW 2021 will directly address these challenges and place women at the forefront of not only the events agenda, but of Africa's energy agenda. "By uniting speakers from both the educational and energy sector, AEW 2021 will drive a discussion on increasing women's participation by addressing the root of the problem, inclusion and representation," they added.
The AEW 2021 will also focus on removing barriers to entry, emphasizing the role of organizations in ensuring equality, particularly in terms of job applications, interviews and employments across every level of the value chain and within various positions in the hierarchy. "By not only establishing policies that address the gender gap, but ensuring implementation, the African energy sector has the opportunity to be a globally leading sector in gender equality and inclusivity, driving sectoral and economic growth in the process," they explained.
AEW 2021 not only recognizes the value and contribution of women to the energy industry, but views women as a catalyst for energy sector success, through solutions based workshops and insightful panel discussions led by women across the education, energy and policy making sectors.
The AEW 2021 will the ideal platform whereby women's role in energy can be identified, emphasized and put into action, because Africa's energy future is not only determined by investment and technology, but by innovation and education, all enabled by women's increased participation.
"Women are the future, and AEW 2021 will ensure they take up their rightful place at the table, because if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation," they concluded.