Em­pow­er­ing Nige­rian women through sus­tain­able en­ergy

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - Jonathan Em­manuel the IT/ Pro­gramme As­sis­tant, Cli­mate Trans­for­ma­tion and En­ergy Re­me­di­a­tion So­ci­ety is

En­sur­ing that women and girls have en­ergy ac­cess is not just about women’s rights, it’s a fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights is­sue. A num­ber of quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive stud­ies have shown that clean en­ergy ac­cess is linked with bet­ter chances for girls to com­plete pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion and for women to earn bet­ter wages, while it also con­trib­utes to a re­duc­tion in gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

What clean en­ergy ac­cess can do for women is only half the story. There is a strong case for what women can do to ex­pand clean en­ergy ac­cess and to fight on the front lines against cli­mate change.

The In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency (IEA) shows that about 600 mil­lion peo­ple in SubSa­ha­ran Africa lack ac­cess to elec­tric­ity and rely on tra­di­tional en­ergy sources like wood, char­coal, dung and agri­cul­tural residue for cook­ing and heat­ing. Re­lief Web fur­ther es­ti­mates that 70 per cent of peo­ple liv­ing in poverty in ru­ral ar­eas are women and girls and lack of ac­cess to en­ergy con­sti­tutes a large part of this poverty. A re­cent United Na­tions study 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 the time-con­sum­ing and phys­i­cally drain­ing task of col­lect­ing fire­wood and other sources of fos­sil fuel for their daily en­ergy use. Fur­ther­more, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, fur­ther states that there is no­tice­able rise in pol­lu­tant-based dis­eases, which in­cludes res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness.

Em­pow­er­ing women in Nige­rian with re­new­able en­ergy to power up their busi­nesses will bring sig­nif­i­cant changes to eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties to the coun­try.

Women play a ma­jor role in agri­cul­tural prac­tices, ex­pos­ing them to so­lar-pow­ered tech­nol­ogy will go a long way to im­prov­ing their eco­nomic and so­cial sta­tus.

The de­cen­tral­ized re­new­able en­ergy (DRE) rev­o­lu­tion in Nige­ria has women play­ing cen­tral roles in the quick and broader adop­tion of clean en­ergy. Women in Nige­ria are driv­ing the DRE move­ment, as in­vestors, so­lar busi­ness own­ers, work­ers, pol­icy-mak­ers and en­trepreneurs, own­ing ru­ral DRE pow­ered mi­cro-en­ter­prise. From cost sav­ings to time sav­ings and more hours of light to run their homes and busi­ness - the rip­ple ef­fect is truly im­pres­sive.

Be­yond be­ing just end users of DRE prod­ucts, women en­trepreneurs will use re­new­able en­ergy tech­nolo­gies to scale their busi­nesses or be­come so­lar dis­trib­u­tors. These tran­si­tions come with clear, di­rect ben­e­fits such as the re­place­ment of smoky kerosene lamps with so­lar lamps; tran­si­tion from fire­wood and char­coal stoves to cleaner cook stoves. The im­pacts and ben­e­fits are also be­ing seen in the re­duc­tion of in­door air pol­lu­tion, so­lar-pow­ered ma­ter­nity and ru­ral health­care cen­ters, and the avail­abil­ity of re­frig­er­ated vaccines which is lead­ing to sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in ma­ter­nal death and dis­eases, and so­lar-pow­ered bore­holes for pump­ing clean wa­ter. More women will have to be re­cruited, trained and men­tored as dis­trib­u­tors and en­trepreneurs in the mar­ket, with each woman earn­ing a mark-up for sell­ing a cat­a­logue of so­lar en­ergy and clean cook stove. Even more women are taught to de­ploy these sys­tems for pro­duc­tive us­age from fish­eries to agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and cold stor­age to start­ing so­lar-pow­ered kiosks.

Women play a key role in the use of re­new­able en­ergy in al­le­vi­at­ing en­ergy poverty, they are an un­der­uti­lized re­source in the en­ergy ser­vices de­liv­ery process. As the fastest grow­ing co­hort of en­trepreneurs and busi­ness own­ers in Nige­ria and many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, in­volv­ing women in en­ergy projects, en­ergy re­search, pol­icy and anal­y­sis is es­sen­tial. In curb­ing en­ergy poverty in Nige­ria, the fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions are strongly sug­gested: Em­ploy and uti­lize women par­tic­i­pa­tion in the en­ergy value chain. This can be achieved by train­ing them on soft skills on en­ergy ac­cess pro­grammes.

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