Jonathan Emmanuel

Empowering Nigerian Women trough Sustainable Energy

Energy prosperity has always had a female face. Every day, women around the world face the worst consequences of not having modern energy access. They spend more than 40 per cent of family income on inefficient and dangerous kerosene and candles for lighting. They walk long distances to collect firewood. They deliver babies in darkness, and they toil in smoky kitchens and venture out at night to use outdoor latrines without adequate light. Girls are left behind without educational opportunities due to the lack of reliable light. 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. Ability to power mobile phones means better connectivity and better business opportunities.

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 Sub-Saharan 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 percent 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 business will bring significance change 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 easy access to DRE technologies like basic solar lantern or larger stand-alone solar home systems, make significant differences in the lives of women. 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 business 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.

By empowering active women leadership in local communities, donor institutions and government programs that enhance benefits for women will reap more meaningful results by targeting energy development programs that are spearheaded by women or women organizations. Women need to encourage their children, especially the girls to go into STEM education while they are still young, including them in science clubs, science fairs and science boot camps while in primary and secondary schools will make the child become interested and curious in science and technology related programs in the future, this is the starting point of raising children that will become professionals that build communities and transform nations. These professionals are in charge of solving the complex problems of today’s world and its future in finding solutions for global warming, cancer, world hunger, disappearing habitats, and an interdependent world economy.

 

Written by Jonathan Emmanuel
IT/Programme Assistant
Climate Transformation and Energy Remediation Society (CLIMATTERS)
Jonathan.ugbede@remove-this.climatters.org