Funding holding back women in the energy sector - Radebe

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe. (Photo: GCIS)
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe. (Photo: GCIS)

Lack of funding is among the factors limiting the participation of women in the energy sector, said Energy Minister Jeff Radebe.

He was delivering the key note address at the Women in Energy dialogue on transformation in Midrand, north of Johannesburg on Monday. Radebe highlighted that women’s participation in the sector was low.

“A key constraint to the effective women participation in the energy sector is lack of funding, technical skills and poor project preparation,” Radebe said. “Special funding instruments should be developed to assist women entrepreneurs.”

The minister said that his officials are consulting with financial institutions to find ways to support financial needs for emerging economies.  “The Department of Women is also exploring ways of unlocking funding for women in business in general. We need more innovative funding models to accommodate women and new entrants in the business sector,” he said.

The minister said that capacity building is another barrier to women’s participation in the sector. The department of energy (DoE) is working on improving access to information, capability development, mentorship, training and networks that support business.

Particularly in the oil and gas sector women who are new entrants are often overlooked by big business during the procurement process. Tenders are usually granted to accredited service providers which excludes women and new entrants, Radebe explained. 

When it comes to procurement policy, Radebe said that the DoE is working on a gender strategy and implementation plan. “The department has requested state-owned companies to indicate how they intend to empower women from an employment equity and business opportunity empowerment perspectives. Before the end of this financial year, these plans will have been submitted for implementation,” he said.

He further called on private sector partnerships to train service providers to compete in the sector. “Supplier development programmes done in business partnerships will go a long way to assist the challenge of capacity building,” he said.

Radebe also noted that with the move towards clean energy such as renewables, there should be space for women to participate. Particularly the Independent Power Producer programme should allow for women to be part of the value either through ownership, management control, employment and procurement.

“I believe that integrating women and young people into all levels of the energy value chain will lead to more effective and efficient energy initiatives, and unleash greater return on investments,” he concluded.

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