ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, October 30, 2020/ — H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure & Energy participated at the Energy Regulators Association of East Africa’s Webinar on “Empowering Women in the Energy Sector of Africa”, aiming at discussing gender gaps within the African energy sector and exploring opportunities and strategies to integrate and empower women within the energy sector value chain.
The Webinar brought together women energy leaders and experts in the African energy sector to discuss various issues aimed at charting a way forward to accelerate the involvement of women in various components of the energy access agenda including energy infrastructure expansion, electricity generation, harmonisation of regulatory frameworks, energy resources exploration and cross-border energy trade.
High-level speakers during the Webinar presented various strategies and initiatives aspiring to creating and enhancing economic and employment opportunities for women within the African energy value chain. The Webinar also highlighted gender-sensitive approaches to overcome the barriers to women entering the energy sector.
Speaking during the opening session of this Webinar, the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid noted that the African energy system provides ample opportunities for women to lead and participate in the energy value chain. She remarked that “empowering women along the energy value chain in Africa will significantly enhance income generating opportunities for women, reduce poverty, enhance food security as well as promote the social and political status of women”.
“There is strong evidence that women are increasingly participating in energy development and businesses in African countries. However, we need to recognise that much more could be done to enhance the participation and increase the role of women in the energy sector at all levels. In addition to ensuring the participation of women in energy businesses and leadership positions in the energy sector, we should also deliberate on how to use the energy resources to uplift the lives of women, especially in the rural areas.” add Dr Abou-Zeid.
The AU Commissioner also highlighted several barriers to effective participation of women in the African energy sector including cultural bias and stereotypes, exclusion of women in skills development and capacity building activities as well as low levels of opportunities for women to access energy for business expansion. She underlined various strategies to address these barriers including education and capacity building of women in energy technologies, making energy businesses and work environment attractive to women, and ensuring the implementation of measures and policies that give equal opportunities to women in terms of incentives and doing business, which will be crucial to stimulating business growth and economic empowerment.
Dr Abou-Zeid underscored the work performed by the Infrastructure and Energy Department of the AU Commission (AUC) to mainstream gender into the development of the Second Phase of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP2), by including gender-sensitive procurement actions as one the projects selection criteria, which will prioritize projects that support participation of women in the supply side of regional infrastructure projects including the energy sector.
Commissioner Abou-Zeid also talked about the African Network of Women in Infrastructure (ANWIN), which is another initiative lead by the AUC and a high-level advocacy platform to promote gender in infrastructure. She mentioned that guidelines on Gender-Responsive Infrastructure Development (GRID), have been developed to provide practical guidance to a wide range of stakeholders (Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), private sector and civil society) in including gender during the infrastructure project planning, design, financing and implementation phases.
The outcomes of the Webinar will be used to strengthen women empowerment initiatives at the continental, regional and national levels.