OPINION: Uganda’s energy transition must be driven by gender diversity

By Guillermo Salarich

Reports on efforts by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, the Ugandan government and technology leader ABB, to encourage more women into the country’s growing oil and gas industry.

Kampala – July 27, 2021: Oil and gas (OGC) exploration has the potential to transform Uganda’s economy, provide its people with job opportunities and experience, and inspire the next generation of Ugandan engineers.

The East African country’s OGC industry continues to expand at a rapid pace, driven by a flood of foreign direct investment in recent years. Planned projects represent a total investment of US$12billion and sector revenues are expected to mature in the coming years.

This energy revolution cannot happen without the participation of Uganda’s women, however, a fact that is recognized by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), which is calling for greater gender inclusivity to encourage females from an early age into engineering, technology and energy roles.

In Africa, just 8% of the OGC workforce is female compared with the global average of 15%. Despite efforts to improve gender diversity in Uganda’s OGC sector, it remains a male-dominated industry.

Equal opportunities

ABB, which has a base in Uganda, supports the commitment of the PAU and the government to address gender imbalance, as well as localize the market, up-skill the local workforce, create jobs and opportunities, and nurture the next generation of leaders and engineers.

The PAU is committed to supporting full female participation in Uganda’s burgeoning OGC industry at all decision-making levels, including management and leadership positions. These initiatives are part of wider efforts to improve economic and social development in the country in line with both the overarching Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the National Development Plan.

The benefits for Uganda’s OGC industry, and the country as a whole, are obvious. Gender diversity can help companies meet the demand for skilled labor, as well as boost profitability, performance and innovation. By encouraging the next generation of females in Uganda to aspire to leadership roles, companies will ensure they have a pool of high-quality talent to choose from as the sector matures.

The PAU notes that greater female representation advances sustainable development. In addition, gender equality and inclusivity in the labor force is proven to improve productivity and innovation, engagement with local communities, and profitability for public and private sector organisations.

Taking the initiative on gender diversity

 There are signs that the efforts of the PAU and the government are beginning to bear fruit.Uganda is party to multiple international and regional protocols promoting female participation in leadership and governance, for example. Supported by various programs, women are being integrated into all levels of the OGC industry, from management positions to R&D, sales, technology and finance.

Gender inclusivity begins in the classroom, and there are signs that the country’s school system is succeeding in encouraging more young women to aspire to leadership and continue into higher education, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), ensuring they have both the qualifications and confidence to compete in an increasingly competitive job market.

ABB leads the way

ABB has been present for over 110 years in Africa. From establishing its first office in North Africa in Cairo, Egypt in 1926, over the past century the company has expanded its operations throughout the continent including in Uganda.

As a leading technology provider, ABB is running a global initiative aimed at encouraging diversity, flexible employment policies and the advancement of women at all levels and in all business areas.

In September 2020, ABB launched its new global diversity and inclusion strategy with the target of doubling the number of women in senior management roles. Diversity isn’t restricted to gender;the company is also committed to attracting people of different ethnicities, ages, profiles and abilities.

The OGC sector in Uganda is forecast to represent a major growth of the economy in the coming years. ABB can support the strategic growth of the industry in a safe, smart and sustainable way through digitization, automation and virtualized engineering.

In addition to developing technologies designed to drive productivity and low-carbon operations, ABB is committed to supporting gender diversity, ensuring that all women and girls in Uganda are fully invested in their nation’s sustainable energy future.

The writer is the Business Development Manager, Energy Industries at ABB

Previous TNDQuestions EFOTI boss’ tea journey, challenges and the future
Next UNAA Presidential candidate, Natoolo protests “illegal return” of shs177m for CDF to Kla