SESA Project Scholarships Spur Women Participation in Energy Sector

The Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC), under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Sida-funded Skills for Energy in Southern Africa (SESA) project, has in the past two year been conducting a series of training to engineers, technicians, and practitioners in the energy sector with the aim of increasing the uptake of renewable energy, energy efficiency and regional energy integration through skills development.

Rauna Penehafo Sheefeni, owner and Director of Lakadiva Investment CC based in Windhoek, one of the beneficiaries of the SESA project training scholarships, participated in three different training programmes at KGRTC. The SESA scholarships are part of the project objective of addressing the gender disparities in engineering with particular emphasis in the energy sector.

Sheefeni said she was privileged to have benefitted from scholarships that the project has been offering to female participants under which she was able to participate in three courses – Certified Energy Auditing Training, Business Planning for Independent Power Producer, and Grid integration for renewable energy.

She explained that she has been able to apply the knowledge acquired in her day-to-day activities, stating that Namibia has a huge potential in the exploitation of renewable energy sources, yet still over-reliant on energy imports from countries which are already battling with load shedding.

Sheefeni said her participation in the trainings has made her develop strong interest in renewable energy, thereby motivating her to join the Renewable Energy Industry Association of Namibia (REIAoN), whose purpose is to facilitate the renewable energy potential into a sustainable reality.

She related that she was invited to make a presentation at the African Women in Energy and Power (AWEaP) conference on bridging gender disparities in the Energy Sector, focusing on how women can use this as an opportunity to bridge gender disparities as countries pursue energy security.

“Through AWEaP, I have joined Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET). As the world, we need to fight climate change together to reduce emission. Population is expected to be doubled in 20 years and everyone will need to upgrade living standard by having access to energy. In future Africa will pay market price for electricity like in Europe, not subsided price by government. Therefore, everyone has to do something about RE and has to do it right away. Thus, I have gained more confidence and taken serious steps to fully participate into renewable energy,” Sheefeni said.

She acknowledged that being a female technician and entrepreneur in the male-dominated power and energy industry was particularly challenging. She said there were time she felt her company was poorly assessed based on the fact that it was female lead as opposed to the capability to carry out the requested assignment.

“Often, I am told by male counterparts to leave power and energy and concentrate on businesses like selling clothes,” she said.

Sheefeni said she believed that limited access to finance and lack of adequate equipment hinder the full participation of women in the engineering profession.

– Adapted from International Labour Organisation Newsletter

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