A had equal access to productive resources, up to

A
2017 statistical review by the International Energy Agency shows that about 600
million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity and rely on traditional
energy sources like wood, charcoal, dung and agricultural residue for cooking
and heating. And according to the World Health Organization, many people use toxic
alternatives like kerosene and paraffin, which can cause burns and respiratory
illness.  

According
to the World Bank, 70 percent of people without access to energy in the world
are women and girls. A recent study by the UN Women shows that women face the worst
consequences from lack of access to clean and modern energy particularly in
developing countries – women have to go through time-consuming and physical
draining task of collecting firewood and other sources of fossil fuel for
energy.

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UN Women
believes that women are very critical to the eradication of global poverty.  According to the World Bank, if all women had
equal access to productive resources, up to 150 million fewer people would go
hungry every day.

According
to Solar Sister, a women-led solar company working to eradicate energy poverty states
that access to renewable energy technologies, such as a basic solar lantern to those as advanced as a stand-alone solar home
system, can make a great difference in the life of a woman.  From cost savings, time savings and more hours
of light to run a business – the ripple effect is truly impressive

To increase women
access to renewable energy, women should be encouraged to adopt clean energy
technologies by becoming end users – taking them away from traditional energy
sources to clean and renewable energy technologies. Women stand to benefit a
lot from this transition which includes: having access to solar lanterns to
replace smoky kerosene lamps; clean cookstoves to replace traditional burning stoves
and reduce indoor air pollution; solar-powered rural hospitals to improve health
care services, refrigeration of vaccines leading to reduction in maternal death
and diseases; and solar-powered borehole for clean water.

Beyond end users,
women can be encouraged to become entrepreneurs either using the renewable
energy technologies to scale their business or becoming distributors. An example
is Solar Sister approach engaging rural women at all level of energy sales and
distribution.  

Women
should also be encouraged to take policy-making positions in the sector
specifically to drive decentralized renewable energy. There are a few examples
of women who are in leadership positions and effective thought leaders helping
to shape the sector.

An
example is the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Nigeria’s lead agency
saddled with the responsibility of providing electricity to rural communities
headed by a woman for the first time in history. Damilola Ogunbiyi
took the reins as Managing Director and CEO in 2017.  In her first
six months in office, she has been able to deploy several decentralized
off-grid electrification solutions in various rural communities in
Nigeria.  She is also a committed advocate for women in the sector –
mentoring female employees who are driving most of the agency’s initiatives and
programs.

Another
example is the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, with two women on the
board of executive as Vice President (Habiba Ali) and Treasurer (Hannah Kabir)
helping to shape the sector. Another prominent voice in the sector is Anita
Nana Okuribido, the National President of the Council for Renewable Energy
Nigeria (CREN), a solar industry veteran who is helping to drive development in
the sector.  

There
are also women in C-suite positions – becoming their own developers and
distributors and finding unique ways to provide electricity to those at the
bottom of the pyramid and reaching last mile communities There are at least a
few solar companies that are owned or run by women which includes: Ajima Farms,
a waste-2-watt initiative which is using biogas to generate electricity for off-grid
rural communities led by Fatima Ademoh; Azuri Technologies, an international
solar company with presence in Nigeria and Africa led by Vera Nwanze; Sosai
Renewable Energy, a leading solar company addressing energy poverty in rural
communities; Creeds energy, a prominent indigenous renewable energy company led
by Hannah Kabir; and Petra Uche, who is a director at Astevens Group, a leading
indigenous renewable energy company. 

According
to USAID, studies in other sector have shown that investing in women and girls
has a positive impact on productivity and sustainable growth. Improving women’s
access to the renewable energy sector leads to improved development outcomes
beyond the sector, including economic growth and better lives for family. How do
we get more women interested in the renewable energy sector and choosing DRE as
a career path?

Moving
forward, companies, government, and CSOs can encourage women and girls to enter
the sector through scholarship, grants, recognition, and awards. Another way is
to raise awareness about the job opportunities available to women in the sector
– is key to recruiting more women into the sector.

 

Power for All is a global campaign to promote
distributed renewable energy as the key to achieving universal energy
access.  The campaign is active in
Nigeria, Sierra Leone,  and Zimbabwe, as
well as at the global level with over 125 partners from 22 countries. We work
with government, the private sector, investors and civil society to create an
enabling environment for distributed renewable energy market growth globally
and in Nigeria. We believe that gender is
such a critical part of achieving energy access and rural development. Through our
Market Women development program, we are building the capacity of existing rural
women entrepreneurs to be DRE entrepreneurs either as productive users or as sales
and last mile distributors of solar products.