Catalyzing Professional Development for West African Women Energy Leaders

The energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa remains male-dominated, with few women in leadership and supervisory positions. According to multiple research studies, women represent less than a quarter of the energy sector workforce globally, a statistic shared by developed and developing countries. Among the barriers to women’s participation are a lack of awareness of the opportunities in energy-related fields, and limited access to resources to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education needed to enter and thrive in the sector.

To improve this situation, Power Africa, USAID, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and the Centre Africain d’etudes Superieures en Gestion (African Center for Higher Studies in Management) delivered the first French-language iteration of the YALI-Power Africa Young Women in African Power Leadership Training in West Africa. Forty young female professionals from 17 Francophone countries across Africa participated in the training, held in Dakar, Senegal in February and March 2020.

Participants of the Young Women in African Power Leadership training program visiting the Cheikh Anta Diop in Mbouky, Senegal

Power Africa developed and facilitated nine training modules based on key energy sector concepts, such as Energy as a Catalyst for Development and A Practical Approach to Work in the Energy Space.

The modules focused on providing insight on modern energy trends and key leadership skills, in addition to empowering participants to take on new roles and challenges as they progress in their energy sector careers.

YALI participants in a breakout session, discussing a case study on the intersection between energy and economic growth.

The training sessions also featured guest speakers such as former Power Africa off-grid advisor, Aminata Ba, an engineer who shared her experiences as a woman in the energy sector.

According to Onnella Aosa Itony, a participant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, “The training was good, with interactive sessions such as the case studies and workshops. I am now empowered to ensure that my country is practicing good energy governance.”

A virtual training session introducing key trends in the off-grid sector.

The final week of the training in mid-March was adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, as participants returned to their home countries ahead of schedule. The last two sessions were conducted virtually in May 2020.

Assanatou Cisse

“The training session was very relevant, and it gave us several perspectives to explore in Africa’s energy sector. The session provided me with a critical approach in the development of projects in my professional life,” said Assanatou Cisse, YALI participant, Mali.

Power Africa will continue to support this cohort of young women professionals in the power sector as they champion gender equality in the industry. Power Africa’s collaboration with YALI also complements ongoing support to USAID’s Engendering Utilities program, which works with electricity utilities and other male-dominated sectors in sub-Saharan Africa and around the world to improve gender equality through organizational change.

Power Africa invests in women to promote gender equality and female empowerment. We support projects, programs and policies that intentionally strive to reduce gender inequalities and promote effective engagement of both men and women in sub-Saharan Africa.



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Power Africa

Power Africa


A U.S. Government-led partnership that seeks to add 30,000 MW and 60 million electricity connections in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 >