As the contribution of women to the energy sector has increased significantly in the last 10 years, the focus on how energy access is changing women’s lives across the continent is one of the cornerstones of the Digital Energy Festival for Africa, which opens on Tuesday 20 October and runs until 26 November.

The festival will give a platform to female entrepreneurs and focus on gender as an economic enabler for African communities and individuals seeking equality.

“Throughout the festival we will learn from incredible leaders that have risen to powerful positions, not because of their gender, but because they’re the best leaders of our time. They’re already inspiring so many other women and we have seen that reflected across the festival – especially in the AFSIA Solar Awards which has received a majority of entries from women-led and owned African businesses.” – Shiddika Mohamed, group director, EnergyNet, organisers of Africa Energy Forum.

The Digital Energy Festival will see four of Clarion Events’ leading energy brands Africa Energy ForumAfrican Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa and the Oil & Gas Council’s Africa Assembly and the leading energy journal ESI Africa jointly host six weeks of compelling content.

“Over the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with highly skilled women in the various power and energy fields, from geothermal engineers to the CEOs of private and public sector companies. The common denominator that always appears is the importance of having family support and industry mentors along your career path. Therefore, I’m delighted that ESI Africa is part of the Digital Energy Festival, and we will feature fireside chats with women who are mentors in their own right and we will showcase our GenderLens series of conversations.” – Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl, editor, ESI Africa.

Young women must be deliberate

  • “Post-COVID-19 pandemic the electricity supply industry has the  opportunity to recover better from coronavirus and focus on three key areas that can deliver faster and greater results. First, embrace new business models. Second, support and engage the off-grid sector. Third, prioritise and invest in green infrastructure that will help achieve faster progress on SDG7 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.”
    *ESI Africa Issue 4-2020.

    – This is according to AEF 2020 Chairperson, Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and UN Special Representative to the Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All. Learn more from Ms. Ogunbiyi during an exclusive fireside chat on Wednesday, 21 October, Africa Energy Forum.
  • “Young women starting out in careers in the power and industry sector must be ready to work twice as hard and twice as long. This is still relatively a male-dominated sector even though it is changing in the renewable energy field. However, there is still a long way to go to reach gender parity in terms of size, opportunities, or even pay scale. So, young women must be deliberate with the choices they make when they enter the sector. They must be innovative, proactive, and resilient and must leverage on any opportunity to grow that comes their way.”    
    *ESI Africa, July 20, 2020.

            – This is the opinion of another well-known trailblazer in the African energy sector, Ifeoma Malo, CEO of Clean Tech Hub and the Energy Innovation Center in Abuja. She             is part of African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa’s Women in Energy session on Monday, 23 November.

Highlights of Digital Energy Festival sessions where the focus is on gender challenges in the sector include:

Africa Energy Forum:

  • Fireside chat with Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and UN Special Representative to the Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All – 21 October 
  • Energy&HER series: A series of gender-focused conversations exploring extraordinary female entrepreneurs and the contributions they are making to the sector:
    • A business case for gender smart investing – 22 October
    • AWEDI hosted Energy&HER Panel Discussion – 27 October
    • REA hosted Energy&HER Panel Discussion – 29 October
    • Power Africa hosted Digital Dialogue: GBV and Electricity: What’s light got to do with it? – 3 November
    • AfDB & ALSF hosted Energy&HER Digital Dialogue – 5 November
    • Malawi Fruits hosted Energy&HER Case Study: Creating a circular economy – 12 November

African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa:

  • “Women in Leadership” panel of CEOs sharing advice and discussing the challenges on their journey to C-level – 23 November

Oil & Gas Council:

  • Fireside chat: Ayotola Jagun, Chief Compliance Officer and Company Secretary, Oando – 3 November
  • Fireside chat: Fathima Hussain, Managing Director, Oil & Gas Corporate Finance, Standard Chartered Bank – 5 November

ESI Africa:

  • Fireside chat with Kristina Skierka, CEO, Power for All – 3 November
  • Fireside chat with Nicola Lazenby, programme director, Energy Catalyst – 11 November
  • GenderLens series of conversations – throughout

More trailblazing women featured during the Digital Energy Festival for Africa include:

Africa Energy Forum sessions:
      –  Linda Munyengeterwa, Regional Infrastructure Industry Director: Middle East & Africa, IFC
      –  Rachel More-Oshodi, Deputy Vice President Commercial Sales & Specialist, Africa, Total
      –  Tariye Turner Gbadegesin, Managing Director & Chief Investment Officer, ARM-Harith Infrastructure Investment
      –  Liz Lloyd, Chief Impact Officer, CDC
      –  Tas Anvaripour, CEO, Neo Themis
      –  Laurence Mulliez, Chairman, Globeleq