Career development

Empowering Women in Energy: Five Insights From Experts

NAICE's annual Women Leadership Program provided insights from industry leaders about achieving diversity.

Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 09-29-49 Nigerian Annual International Conference and Exhibition (NAICE 2023) – Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.png
Attendees at a session during 2023 NAICE.
Source: Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Company.

The Women Leadership Program (WLP), an integral component of the Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition (NAICE), plays a pivotal role in fostering dynamic discourse. This initiative serves as a crucial segment of the event, uniting accomplished female leaders from diverse sectors, both within the oil and gas industry and beyond. Through insightful conversations centered on contemporary industry themes, this platform exemplifies the deeply ingrained gender sensitivity of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Nigeria Council.

Each year, the program evolves into a gathering of intellectual prowess within the energy sector. This assembly not only shapes the trajectory of our society through meaningful discussions but also crafts pragmatic solutions. Particularly noteworthy is its commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusion in boardrooms, reflecting the program's intrinsic value.

In a significant milestone, the program commemorated its decade-long journey this year, meriting a celebration of excellence, sustained capacity building, and profound professional influence.

Unveiling Africa's Paradox: A Struggle for Power and Progress
Yinka Omogrebe, Keynote Speaker

In a riveting exploration, a distinguished law professor cast a spotlight on Africa's potential as a global powerhouse, mirroring Asia in population and expanse, yet beset by an enigmatic dilemma—energy poverty. The continent's innate wealth in resources remains eclipsed by a scarcity that shackles both collective and individual growth. Omogrebe posed a poignant query: Why does abundance falter into poverty?

Emerging from this shadow, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco emerge as energy champions, defying the darkness. Morocco, in particular, paints a visionary canvas, illuminating citizens' paths with sustainable electrification. A cycle of renewable energy cascades into economic vigor. Yet, Nigeria stands as a stark contrast, where electricity's feeble glow falls far below peers. Instead, gas flares outshine electric aspirations. The keynote speaker championed the potent union of technology and finance as a beacon of hope.

In a compelling twist, Omogrebe unveiled a different facet, revealing how women's progress is entwined with energy. Her clarion call resonated women's rights are society's rights, entwined with every advance. Yet, the corporate stage remains dimly lit for women, due to the absence of their voices in the halls of decision-making.

Omogrebe rallied women to strategize and avoid self-imposed limits. Thus, the stage is set for Africa to power beyond its paradox, emboldened by women's resilience and the promise of potent change.

During the discussion, the experts shared five insights.

Debo Fagbemi: Fagbemi highlighted how the energy industry can drive national development by focusing on global opportunities for women. He emphasized that GDP growth translates into diverse job openings, regardless of gender. Energy transition will lead to the creation of both direct and indirect jobs. Fagbemi stressed the need to equip Nigerian women with new skills to prepare for future roles and underscored the importance of local growth akin to Asia's success.

Grace Orife: Orife addressed the global risk bias against women. She called for substantial investment in STEM education and advocated for intentional efforts from stakeholders and industry leaders to empower young women. Orife suggested promoting female role models, enhancing awareness of STEM education at grassroots levels, and fostering technical activities within women's networks to counteract bias.

Godfrey Ogbechie: Ogbechie challenged stereotypes surrounding women's leadership and decision-making abilities. He advocated a mindset shift, stressing that women are competent leaders who can break barriers. He called for a balanced approach that encourages girls to pursue STEM fields while also valuing skills beyond degrees. He suggested flexible work structures, including remote work, to accommodate women's diverse needs.

Meyiwa Eyesan: Eyesan underscored education's pivotal role in sustainable development. She emphasized the importance of advocating for education in remote areas, proposing government-private sector partnerships to address local and international needs. Eyesan draws inspiration from South Korea's literacy success achieved through political will. She reaffirmed the invaluable contribution of women in the workplace and emphasized the need for continued efforts to meet their unique needs.

Evi Ifekwe: Ifekwe stressed the significance of a strategic roadmap and well-defined objectives to empower women in the energy industry and beyond. She envisions a smoother transition to a diverse energy landscape with focused planning. Ifekwe emphasized skill investment to support women's entry into the flexible renewable energy sector, encouraging women to create value and break through corporate barriers.

Through these expert perspectives, a powerful narrative emerged—women's empowerment in the energy sector is not only pivotal for growth but also a catalyst for broader national development.