NCDMB moves to deepen women participation in Nigeria’s energy industry

Although women make up 48 per cent of the global labour force, they only account for 22 per cent of the labour force in the oil and gas sector and 32 percent in renewables, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and this situation is evident in Nigeria.

To address this issue, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) is seeking to improve the participation of women in the oil and gas industry by ramping up financing and encouraging mentoring programmes to enhance their capacity.

The government agency charged with deepening particiation of Nigerians in the energy sector hosted the Nigerian Content Consultative Forum (NCCF) Diversity Sectoral Working Group on June 14 where it announced financing plans to mainstream women participation in oil and gas industry.

Simbi Kesiye Wabote, executive secretary of NCDMB said a $40 million Women in Energy Fund has been set in partnership with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM). Under the scheme, the NCDMB is contributing $20m to the pool and it will be matched by the same amount in naira by NEXIM.

The fund which was created in mid-2021 would cover manufacturing, oil service contracts, environment management, leasing, logistics, catering and training. The target beneficiaries are firms where women hold a majority shareholding of 51 percent or where at least 50 percent of management are women or where the CEOs and at least 40 per cent of management are women.

Wabote indicated that 15 applications have been received and three have been approved and the disbursement of funds would soon start. He said that the online portal for the fund was launched some weeks ago, and this would speed up the process and reduce the human interface in the application and processing.

He commended the performance of women in various roles in the oil and gas industry and canvassed for their inclusion in the administration of the various Trusts and Funds that were established by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, notably the Host Community Development Trust, Host Community Development Trust Fund and Environmental Remediation Fund.

Wabote also said the Oil and Gas Industrial Parks in Bayelsa State and Cross River state are getting ready for completion and will commence operations next year and the board had started inviting applicants for allocation of plots to set up manufacturing outfits in the park. He encouraged women-owned businesses with workable proposals to apply as they will be given special consideration as part of the Board’s commitment to mainstream women into the oil and gas industry.

In 2017, the Board in partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI), launched a $200m Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCIF) to provide low cost and accessible credit to service companies. According to Wabote in an interview in 2021, almost 85 per cent of the fund has been accessed by Nigerian companies.

Read also: How renewable energy can solve Nigeria’s energy crisis

The Governing Council of the Board at its meeting in June 2020 approved the expansion of the NCIF from $200 million to $350 million. The Council chaired by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva approved that $100 million from the additional funds would be deployed to boost the five existing loan products of the NCI Fund.

Similarly, the Council also approved that $20 million and $30 million respectively should be deployed to two newly developed loan product types – the Intervention Fund for Women in Oil & Gas and the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) Products, which include Working Capital loans and Capacity Building loans for PETAN member companies.

The fund has about five products: equipment financing, contract financing, manufacturing, loan refinancing and community contractor refinancing. The loan interest rate, which is fixed at 8 per cent with five years span for repayment and one-year moratorium, has enabled most Nigerian companies to refinance their loans.

In October 2019, Wabote announced that the Board would commence formulation of gender-friendly policies aimed at increasing access to funding, award of contracts and support for research and development, for the benefit of women operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, in his remarks applauded the NCDMB for inaugurating the Diversity Sectorial Working Group under the NCCF as provided in Section 58 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act.

Quoting a recent study by Global Energy Talent Index, the Minister said women occupy about 50 percent of non-technical positions at entry-level compared to only 15 percent of technical and field role positions, hinting that gender diversity and inclusion decreases with seniority, with only a tiny proportion of women in executive positions.

“The percentage of women in the industry drops from 36 percent to 24 percent between the middle and executive level,” he said.

Silva said that the Nigerian government has been deliberate in introducing gender-friendly policies aimed at increasing access to funding, award of contracts and support for research and development in the interest of women operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

The Minister harped on the need to be deliberate in getting more girls into Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), which is a pathway to careers in the oil and gas industry.

He also advised women in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry to work together towards increasing participation of fellow women in the industry by engendering growth, building capacities and capabilities, identifying opportunities, mentoring and coaching.

In her remarks at the conference, Margery Chuba-Okadigbo, the Chairperson NNPC Board, challenged NCDMB to institute a development programme like Project 100 for oil and gas firms owned by women.

Wabote assured that the Board would work with project promoters in the oil and gas industry to ensure the award of some contracts to companies owned by women, including the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Train 7 project.

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