News

March 26, 2024

Role of women in advancing clean energy solutions in Nigeria

Nigeria

By Victoria Ojeme

Over the years, it has become widely known that Nigeria faces a pressing challenge – Energy Poverty. It is no longer news that millions of Nigerians, up to 55% of our entire population, lack access to clean, reliable, and sustainable energy.

In fact, many Nigerian households, especially rural households rely on costly and environmentally damaging energy sources such as firewood, generators, and kerosene lamps to meet their daily energy needs for activities such as cooking, lighting, cooling, and heating. This energy poverty not only perpetuates socioeconomic differences, but also increasingly contributes to environmental degradation, climate change, and health problems.

It is further disheartening that Nigeria’s energy poverty affects businesses and commercial ventures across various sectors and value chains resulting in poor yield, wastage, and low financial returns which has prompted a good number of manufacturing companies to relocate their businesses outside the shores of Nigeria. This, no doubt, affects Nigeria’s GDP and revenue generation, further contributing to the economic downturn, importation of essential goods, and a resultant increase in the prices of goods and services.

The negative impacts of energy poverty are widespread, affecting various sectors including education, health, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, hospitality, and overall economic development. To address these challenges, a clean energy revolution is urgently needed in Nigeria. Renewable energy sources ofer a viable solution to Nigeria’s energy woes, providing sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. Embracing clean energy not only fosters economic growth but also aligns with global sustainability agendas, such as the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

It is however interesting to know that in Nigeria, women are central to addressing energy poverty and driving the transition to clean energy solutions because they are at the forefront of energy usage and management in households, as well as in small-scale businesses reliant on energy. As primary energy users and household managers, women are responsible for various energy-intensive tasks, including lighting, cooking, heating, and household chores.

Thus, they play a crucial role in energy decision-making and management meaning that women can significantly contribute to the adoption, consumption, and promotion of clean energy solutions, accelerating the country’s energy transition.

As a result, several organizations in Nigeria are leading the charge in empowering women in the clean energy sector. The Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN), All On, Clean Cooking Alliance, and Solar Sister have been instrumental in providing women with access to training, financing, and networking opportunities. By prioritizing clean cooking goals, integrating gender-inclusive policies, empowering rural women, and conducting awareness-raising campaigns, these organizations are catalyzing positive change at both the grassroots and policy levels. Through these efforts, we have seen women’s participation in fostering the adoption and promotion of clean energy technologies within Nigerian communities.

However, despite their significant contributions, women remain underrepresented in the energy sector. Efforts to encourage women’s participation in STEM careers and provide access to finance and support for women entrepreneurs are essential for bridging this gap. By breaking down barriers and creating more inclusive opportunities, Nigeria can harness the full potential of its female workforce in driving the clean energy transition forward.

Various initiatives in Nigeria have demonstrated the transforming impact of women’s involvement in addressing energy poverty and advancing energy transition. For example, the Solar Sister program empowers women entrepreneurs to distribute clean energy products in their communities, providing access to affordable and sustainable energy solutions. Similarly, the Rural Electrification Agency’s Women’s Solar Engineers Program trains women in rural communities to install and maintain solar energy systems creating employment opportunities and driving local economic development. In addition, All On has provided funding to women-led clean energy businesses, one of which is Salpha Energy, to provide affordable clean energy solutions to Nigeria’s vast population.

To empower more women in advancing clean energy in Nigeria, policies and initiatives aimed at promoting clean energy must prioritize gender inclusion and address the specific needs and challenges faced by women. Clean cooking goals should be elevated in national agendas, with integrated policies and financing strategies aimed at alleviating poverty and improving public health. Awareness-raising campaigns and direct engagement of women as entrepreneurs and champions are also crucial for the success and sustainability of clean energy initiatives.

The transition to clean energy is not just a necessity but an opportunity for Nigeria to thrive sustainably. Women are at the forefront of this transition, driving change and empowerment in their communities. As we look to the future, it is imperative to recognize and support the critical role of women in advancing clean energy in Nigeria. Through continued advocacy and empowerment initiatives, we can build a more inclusive and sustainable energy future for all.