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Nigeria: Encouraging female energy leaders

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

It has been reported that as Nigeria’s oil and gas sector grows, businesswomen across the country are finding more opportunities to create their place in the male dominated field. Since 2010, federal initiatives, such as the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, have been in place to help shift ownership from international oil companies to domestic investors. Organisations, such as the Society of Petroleum Engineers Nigeria Council, are also working to empower Nigeria’s female population to move away from traditional low capital business towards the energy industry and leadership positions within.

There are some key female entrepreneurs who are working to increase women’s stake in the industry. At the front is Diezani K. Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, who was previously the Federal Minister of Transportation and Federal Minister of Mines and Steel Development. She has said, ‘the fact that two of the biggest cabinet positions in Nigeria, petroleum and finance, are held by women, shows how far we have come. We are there not because we are women. We are there because of our competence as managers.’

Another key industry leader is Bola Shagaya, MD of Practoil Limited. Her businesses include investment in real estate, spanning across major cities in the country with over 300 employees. Also, the richest woman in Africa is Nigerian energy mogul Folorusho Alakija. She earned the title after the Ministry of Energy approved her oil prospecting license in 1993, which granted her a lucrative block in Nigeria’s coastal waters. Famfa Oil now holds a 60% stake in that particular oilfield.

Other investors in the field include Catherine Uju Ifejika, chairman and CEO of the Britannia U Group, a group of oil and gas companies, who said, ‘we are able to hold your homes together, and we are beginning to translate that into boardroom jobs, and then owning companies.’

Winihin Ayuli-Jemide is a leading activist of research on women in business and government and she has argued that one of the reasons South Africa was the dominant economy in Africa for such a long time is that women were actively involved in businesses of all sizes. She is an advocate in support of now being the time for Nigerian women to think bigger and turn to booming areas such as oil and gas.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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