Amidst the global pivot towards an energy transition, African nations are seizing this transformative moment to create new and exciting pathways for women to thrive in the energy sector.
Kátia Epalanga, Executive Director of Angola’s National Oil Company (NOC), Sonangol, attended a webinar held by the African Energy Chamber’s African Women Business Energy Network (AWBEN), alongside other influential women in the energy sector to address the critical issue of diversity and inclusivity in the industry on 29 March.
Under the theme, ‘Harnessing Diversity and Inclusion in the Energy Industry in the Age of Energy Transition,’ she shed light on the importance of creating a more equitable and diverse workplace, where women can thrive and contribute their unique perspectives.
With Angola in the limelight as one of Africa’s major oil and gas producers, with an average production of one million barrels of oil per day in 2023, its NOC, Sonangol, is making moves towards promoting inclusivity and the participation of women in the sector.
“The energy transition comes with challenges, and we need to be faster in implementing new strategies. Let’s take the opportunity to include women to address these challenges and ensure equality and inclusion,” she stated, stressing the importance of education initiatives that target women wanting to enter the energy sphere.
Epalanga highlighted that programs and forums such as the AWBEN serve as a platform to bring people together to address the issue of gender equality and inclusivity in the industry, adding that by investing in such initiatives, it is possible to promote the growth and success of the sector, while empowering women to fully participate and contribute.
She pointed out that it was essential to prioritize HR improvements in the energy industry. This includes HR developing policies that prioritize and facilitate greater participation of women in the sector. By adopting a more inclusive approach, energy companies can attract and retain a diverse workforce, leading to improved performance and better decision-making.
Sonangol currently has two women on its board, and the company is looking at gradually appointing new female leaders. Epalanga emphasized that it is crucial to appoint the most qualified and capable women for these positions at Sonangol.
Despite Sonangol actively promoting the entry of women into its organization, Epalanga highlighted that the industry must also focus on preserving and retaining these women due to the common trend of women leaving the business world because of the challenges they face.
During previous editions of African Energy Week (AEW), the AEC’s premier energy investment and networking conference, panel discussions were held on women in energy. The upcoming AEW 2023, scheduled to take place from 16th to 20th October in Cape Town, will continue to feature the representation of women in the energy sector by focusing on an array of topics including women leaders and entrepreneurs in the energy sector, the role these women play in the energy landscape and how to harness their capabilities to drive sector growth.