By Naomi Ukandu Amarachi
“I want to demonstrate to women that, if I can do it, they can too. In my experience, I noticed that women often feel that they are not cut out for the energy or engineering sectors. I am here to prove them wrong.” These were captured as the words of Glory Chinyere Oguegbu, founder and CEO of the Renewable Energy Technology Training Institute, RETTTI and the RETTI Virtual University which recently launched, as reported, the Africa Energy Fellowship for Young Energy Leaders, urging the African woman to key into the global energy industry transition agenda.
With the aim of encouraging the active participation of the Nigerian woman in the ongoing discussion on renewable and energy transition, the Federal Foreign Office, through the German-Nigerian Hydrocarbon Office, with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as the executioner, and the Women in Green Hydrogen Network and African Energy Chamber as partners, said it would fund the project towards building managerial skills and promoting entrepreneurship among Nigerian and African women in energy transition to the letter. This was disclosed during a “Networking Brunch” on African Women for Energy Transition held recently at Sheraton Hotels Lagos, which also saw a great number of Nigerian and African women, as well as EU financiers and promoters in attendance.
While emphasizing the need for active participation in the ongoing energy transition programmes, the forum referred to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s IRENA very strong belief in women and their participatory role in energy transition as a pathway towards transformation of the global energy sector, from conventional fossil fuels epoch to low carbon fuels by the second half of the century. Adding that green hydrogen which requires renewable energy would prompt African countries in the emerging global hydrogen market especially to Europe in the near future. Noting that for the transition to be successful, reports indicate that over 18 million jobs must not only be created, but that inclusion and sustainability must also be ensured and enhanced. It also noted that over 50 per cent of the global population are females, but only about 32 per cent of this number work in the renewable energy sector, data provided by the Women in Green Hydrogen showed.
Besides being identified as the best fuels of the future for economic security and stability for the fossil fuels exporting countries, it has the capacity to also serve as fossil fuels for the exporting countries pathway to achieving decarbonization toward meeting net-zero targets. The forum maintained that Energy Transition presents a unique opportunity for women to be at the forefront of decision and development of low carbon energy sources like green hydrogen towards the net zero emission targets, while opening up opportunities and businesses for women across the energy sector in Africa.
In her keynote address at the event, Dr Rita OKOROAFOR, a former principal reservoir engineer and currently at Stanford University, introduced the hydrogen processes and emphasized that “diversity improves the bottom line…for there’s no just transition where we do not include the voice of women”, she said, urging the African woman to take hold of opportunities in the academia, while understanding the business and commercial activities inherent in the ongoing global energy transition. The event was graced by two all women panel; the first session addressed the energy security and Nigeria preparedness for it.
Grace ORIFE, CEO Adelaar Energy shared insights on commercial impact of the acclaimed Decade of Gas and necessary financing for the energy transition.
Orife reiterated Nigeria’s huge gas potential as catalyst for the country’s power sector stability, providing electricity to the citizens and creating access for Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG domestic use, which also poses as stabilizer in other sectors in the energy security value chain.
According to her, gas encourages access to power and opportunities to achieving Nigeria’s vision of leveraging itself through effective gas usage and monetization, as the years until 2030 had been declared as “Decade of Gas” by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva.
Rosario OSOBASE, Head – Commercial, Tenaris Nigeria navigated the terrain to offer explanations around the complexities of exporting, and how Nigeria can identify the global strengths.
While emphasizing the dangers associated with climate change and global warming, Osobase said the Russian/Ukrainian war has further exacerbated the global economic hardship and distorted the energy transition agenda, while pushing Inflation to its crescendo thereby setting the stage for an impending global food crisis whose negative effects may not have been known or experienced for the first time in global history. Also adding that green hydrogen was a sine qua non to achieving net zero emission. She said: “There must be clear regulatory frame work for sustainability of energy with visionary leaders especially in Africa.”
Speaking about REPowerEU which is a plan by EU to eliminate dependence on Russian gas, Osobase said the situation presents a veritable opportunity for Africa, adding that the continent must buy the ideas of Europe through identifying a clear value chain where players and operators find level playing ground. Noting that hydrogen should be enhanced since it has been useful in large industrial spaces.
While urging African leaders to rise to the occasion through proper policy enunciations and good governance structure said the continent could recreate its own history to prove to the world its potentials in terms of industrialization and commercialization. Urging that Africa looked forward like the Middle East and Asia for other sources of energy.
The Head – German-Nigerian Hydrogen Office; Gina Lagunes also simplified why and how it was an adequate time for Nigeria as a fossil fuel exporting country to explore green hydrogen in a sustainable manner ahead of global energy security.
“Why exploring hydrogen in future, the demand for fossil fuel will be reduced by 2050.
“Therefore, Nigeria should diversify to hydrogen for cleaner energy, Green hydrogen is the last mile to the journey”, she said.
Lagunes disclosed that by 2050, green hydrogen would cover up to 12 per cent worldwide because it is going to be the main component, “and countries would be looking for means of supply.”
The session was moderated by Sharon KABURUK, Advisor, Capacity Development & Private Sector Collaboration at the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP) – a technical assistance programme co-founded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BWC and implemented by GIZ in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Power.
About the necessity to create jobs ahead of the energy transition, the second session addressed the businesses and opportunities. On the panel, Sandra Chukwudozie, CEO Salpha Energy, who also was recently announced as Forbes Africa 30Under-30 trailblazers for 2022, described her work as a mission towards ending energy poverty.
Chukwudozie stated further that Salpha Energy has been able to provide energy to the people in the rural areas where alternative energy compliant appliances are used with payments for them made on instalment, and by which means according to her, Salpha Energy has been able to bridge the gap on energy issues in the rural communities.
“The vision of Salpha Energy is to provide solar power across the value chain which includes agriculture and industries. Introducing solar energy projects to community leaders and working along with non-governmental organizations to meet the aspirations of the people and avert energy poverty.”
Jumoke Fajemirokun Esq, ENR Advisory member, also represented at the panel, explained how she has handled complex commercial transactions within the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors. Adding that for hydrogen project to be funded in Nigeria, there must be viable regulatory framework identifying the value chain and existing contract to ensure that the sector is bankable.
The last panelist was Jocelyn Nwaokenneya, CEO Ladol, who also reflected on the logistic, cargo and freight transportation, as well as other diverse prospects for Nigeria to widen its borders. The panel was moderated by Zafira Suleman, Advisor, Enabling Environment for RE and EE investment at NESP.
The inaugural Networking Brunch welcomed a diverse range of representatives in the renewable energy sector including women of various business categories who also shared their insights on the energy transition and its challenges and opportunities, while the goodwill message was shared by Ruchi Soni, Programme Manager at SEforALL who also leads the initiative on Results-based Financing and Universal Energy Facility.