African Women Are Identified as Key Drivers for Energy Advancement

Africa: Women Are Central to Africa’s Energy Transformation

All Africa, March 8, 2016. Image credit: Peggy_Marco

It is time to recognize that modernizing household energy is central to Africa’s development – and that means bringing women to the table.

Women and girls collect most of the firewood, spending an average of 2.1 hours per day on the task. They also do most of the cooking – a task that consumes about 1.6 hours per day, according to World Bank estimates. This is time that could be spent on education and income-earning activities, costing sub-Saharan African economies as much as US$29.6 billion per year, the World Bank estimates. Combined with health, environmental and other economic impacts, the cost is close to US$60 billion.

Women are not only the end-users of these technologies – they are also key players in the success of any enterprise that develops and markets them. Women are best positioned to tell designers what they want and need, so the resulting products are desirable to consumers, and seen as worth the cost. Women’s groups, which are already active in communities across sub-Saharan Africa, can lead educational efforts and microfinance schemes.
Women can also become household energy entrepreneurs themselves, producing or selling improved stoves, marketing solar lights, and/or providing after-sales services for these products. Close to their customers, women entrepreneurs have the potential to lower customer acquisition and servicing costs and drive these new decentralized solutions.


Women-led renewable energy businesses have a strong track record in accelerating off-grid energy access.

For example, Solar Sister, which combines clean energy technology with a deliberately women-centred direct sales network to deliver improved lighting and cooking options to women in rural Africa, has grown from two to 1,250 entrepreneurs in five years. The company has so far created employment opportunities for 2,000 women across Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria, and has delivered clean, energy efficient products that benefit 300,000 people in the region.

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