Accelerating gender inclusion in the energy sector should be given priority – Lande Abudu
Lande Abudu is the erstwhile Market Development Manager for Azuri Technologies. She has two decades of experience in the corporate world, with a place on the board of the Cowbell Football Academy. Currently, she is the Executive Secretary, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN). Lande has been actively involved in championing and building a robust renewable energy sector.
In an exclusive chat with Petrolgasreport, Abudu speaks on gender equality and the involvement of women in the energy sector. Ayobami Adedinni brings the excerpts.
Sustainable growth is promoted through the Energy sector. How has REAN fared in its Renewable Energy advocacy?
We are unrelenting in our efforts to build a robust renewable energy sector and this comprises numerous activities: Spearheading efforts to ensure favourable, business-friendly policies for the sector and proper implementation of the same. Within a multi-stakeholder group including REAN members, renewable energy experts, public sector stakeholders and regulators, other associations, developers and more, we are engaging with the wider power sector to encourage sustainable growth for what is essentially an evolving sector. While this is very much a work-in-progress, we are making strides. Increased activity within the sector has increased the visibility and the conversation has reached a wider audience. With the increased awareness, comes an understanding of the need to put our collective efforts into ensuring that the sector works effectively, supports the players within it and that there is a good foundation for long term sustainability. Our common aim, we must not forget, is to give Nigerians access to clean, reliable and affordable access to power. These activities are meant to make it happen.
Climate change is a global challenge to sustainable development. How do you think both the regulatory bodies and industry operators can work together on this?
It’s a natural synergy. It must be a symbiotic relationship. The Industry operators can operate optimally where regulation is fit for purpose but not so stringent as to stifle the very industry that they are trying to regulate. The regulatory environment should give comfort to those committed to working in the Renewable Energy (RE) space, thereby encouraging their growth for the benefit of the Nigerian economy. Investor confidence will naturally follow, thereby increasing investment into the sector. The regulatory bodies have to be open to listening to the industry players. Industry players on their part need to be disciplined and to run businesses with transparent processes. Quality Assurance in line with global best practices is the primary goal. We cannot allow sub-standard goods to flood the country and we cannot compromise on robust standardisation within the industry. Creating awareness about climate change must be a collaborative effort; we must work together to achieve sustainable development.
Given the size of the investments needed to achieve energy prosperity, what innovative sources of funding are available for an entrepreneur?
If I had that answer, I would be a billionaire several times over! Or we would be heavily involved in the business of investing, especially to facilitate the scale up of [access to electricity.] That said, the conversation is gaining traction on how best to achieve green financing. The conventional financial instruments might not necessarily offer the right solutions for entrepreneurs in the renewable energy sector. Funding from various sources has thus far been the means by which REAN, with many other stakeholders are working together to find a lasting solution for the sustainability of the sector. We remain optimistic that with the concerted effort going into finding workable solutions, the light at the end of the tunnel does not seem so far away.
Women are leading the Advocacy for the industry. Are there specific programs designed to foster more of such involvement in the energy value chain?
A resounding yes to that question. Accelerating gender inclusion overall and specifically in the energy sector should be given priority. Cultural sensitivities among other factors have kept females away from the energy sector. Some of this comes from being discouraged in STEM education from an early age. The ability is there but there are few role models for girls. REAN is a founding member of the Women in Renewable Energy Roundtable with a focus to increasing gender and social inclusion with specific accelerator activities. We participate in the Women Leadership Group to collaborate on various programmes that will see us actualise gender equality, incidentally SDG #5.These activities re designed to tackle the different roadblocks that stop 51% of the population from achieving their full potential and fully contributing their quota into the system. Some of them include schools programmes to encourage girls into STEM education, tertiary institution drives to demystify STEM degrees and numerous workshops, capacity building opportunities and networking sessions. Its a simple premise – we cannot ignore the potential contribution of half of the population.
Did anything in your background prepare you for your current role as the Executive Secretary?
Every experience on life’s journey is a potential teacher for the next phase. I take learning from almost everything that happens to me or that I observe.
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