Unleashing the Power: Meet Ten Women Driving Minigrids in Africa

Unleashing the Power: Meet Ten Women Driving Minigrids in Africa

This International Women’s Day, the Africa Minigrids Program (AMP) is spotlighting ten women working in the renewable energy sector to showcase how their talent and drive are helping to make minigrids a viable solution for rural communities to close the energy access gap. However, data from IRENA shows that globally, the renewable energy sector employs only 32% of women. We need to change this and empower everyone to participate in the energy transition. 

As well as being under-represented in the sector, women are also the most affected by energy poverty. They are over-represented in low-paying sectors, such as part-time, unregulated work. This is further compounded by existing inequalities related to income, such as the gender pay- gap and limited opportunities associated with caregiving responsibilities

Research also suggests that up to 80% of climate refugees are women while simultaneously being at the frontlines as change agents in their communities. Bearing a disproportionate responsibility for securing food and water for their families, they are more likely to be exposed to the negative impacts of disasters and face heightened risks of gender-based violence during and after disasters. Women are also more dependent on natural resources that are increasingly at risk than men. They face more significant barriers in accessing financial services, technology, and decision-making structures that will enable them to better adapt to climate change. 

Through AMP, rural communities with limited access to electricity will become connected, offering significant opportunities for women and girls. By scaling renewable energy technologies and enabling productive uses of energy, women as beneficiaries can gain additional income through entrepreneurship to support their families, strengthen food security, and benefit from improved healthcare and education systems, which can drastically improve their livelihoods. 

AMP is committed to achieving equitable access to energy and mainstreaming gender inclusion in the clean energy sector while supporting women pioneering the way.

Meet the Trailblazers:

Rosine Ouedraogo, Program Analyst, UNDP Burkina Faso

“In Africa, particularly in rural areas, women are the economic pillar on which the future of their children’s health and education depends. Providing and coupling energy to the income-generating activities they initiate is a catalyst and a sustainable solution for meeting their needs and those of their families, thus ensuring a better future for the next generation.”

Maimuna Kigbu, Administrative Assistant, Rural Electrification Agency of Nigeria

“As an Electrical Engineer in a male-dominated sector, I believe in breaking barriers and powering progress. I am a testament to the resilience, innovation, and strength of women in the Power Sector. Let’s use our energy to drive the needed positive change and illuminate the path for generations of women to come.”

Saudatu Bobboi, Project Technical Assistant, Rural Electrification Agency, AMP Nigeria

“In 2017, I attended my first solar energy training and I was the only woman among 15 men. Now there are a lot of brilliant women working in the renewable energy space in Nigeria. Fortunately, there’s much progress in the sector, although more can be done to improve representation in top management positions.”

Temndeni Khumalo, Project Associate, UNDP Eswatini

“Empowering women and girls to participate in decision-making and leadership when developing renewable energy technologies is crucial in the move towards closing gender gaps related to modern, clean energy and unleashing women’s economic empowerment. Further, giving a voice to double vulnerable women such as those living with disabilities not only empowers them to participate in the economy but provides a platform to highlight a possible pathway for progression and inclusion in a sector that is predominantly male and abled dominated.”

Shamiso Kacelenga, Program Analyst, UNDP Malawi

“Access to clean and affordable energy is pivotal for women in rural Malawi. It not only enhances their dignity but also fosters independence. With reliable energy sources, women are empowered to pursue income-generating activities, thereby reducing their dependence on others for financial support. Moreover, access to clean energy, such as solar power, eliminates the need for traditional, often harmful, cooking methods like open fires, improving health outcomes and reducing the time spent collecting firewood.”

Juliet Sibale, Gender and Development Specialist, UNDP Malawi

“Women in Africa Minigrids and access to energy project sites in Malawi are now able to make corn flour at low cost and within a short walking distance using electric corn milling machines. Corn flour is Malawi’s staple food. Ordinarily, rural areas only have diesel maize mills, which are very expensive as fuel prices are very high. Electric corn flour-making equipment is cheaper to use.”

Farida Ahmed Karim, Project Manager, AMP Comoros

“As the first energy project coordinator in Comoros, I hope to pave the way for other women and demonstrate that inclusion and diversity can lead to greater innovation, sustainability and equity. Indeed, women have an essential role to play in the development and implementation of sustainable energy solutions.”

Shanti Karanjit, Chief Technical Advisor, UNDP Djibouti

“I am currently working as a Chief Technical Advisor and also leading an integrated climate change portfolio formulation process. I believe that access to reliable energy is a blessing in disguise for all and genuinely hope that the additional energy services we are providing will ease the daily drudgery of rural Djiboutian women, unlock economic opportunities for them, and transform their lives.”

Udumma Nwokike, Climate Change Analyst, UNDP Nigeria

“Today and always, women continue to light up the world. Let us design modern energy access programs based on a “gender lens” approach to women’s empowerment. Energy-empowered women equal energy-empowered societies.”

Sithembile Tembo, Energy Program Assistant, UNDP Malawi

“As a woman in a male-dominated field, create your own space by proving you belong there. I am excited to be part of a women-led entrepreneurship effort in rural Malawi that will be fueled by renewable energy minigrids in rural areas, as I believe that energy has the potential to empower women economically.”