Equality is the New Standard: Promoting Women in Energy Regulation

In recognition of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, USAID and Power Africa are highlighting internship programs for women in the energy sector in a three-part series. Our second installment moves from the technical side to look at opportunities in energy regulation.

USAID recognizes that expanding women’s participation in the energy sector — and particularly in decision-making roles — can advance inclusive economic growth and improve financial performance and sustainability across the sector. Research shows that gender diversity in the workplace is correlated with both profitability and value creation, yet the energy industry remains one of the least gender-diverse sectors globally.

Internships and training programs open pathways for women in the traditionally male-dominated energy sector. This three-part series highlights some of the Power Africa-supported programs that are creating opportunities for women in the power industry in sub-Saharan Africa.

NARUC WOMEN IN ENERGY REGULATION INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

The regulations and policies that shape electricity production and reliability have a significant effect on women’s lives, including access to education and health care. However, women are consistently underrepresented in energy regulation, particularly in technical and management roles.

After completing the six-month, paid internship program, participants are better enabled to become attractive candidates for employment within the host commission, other regulatory agencies, government ministries, utilities, private energy companies, or consulting firms.

Intern Spotlight: Monicah Kitili

Monicah Kitili knows how far she has come in life and has big plans for what’s ahead. Born in the shadow of Mt. Kenya in the town of Nanyuki, she is the youngest of nine siblings and the only one to attend university. She studied economics at Kenyatta University and wants to help create meaningful change in Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa, including by working with young women rising from poverty.

As an intern at the Kenya Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Monicah was in the first cohort of the Women in Energy Regulation Internship program.

“Before the NARUC Women in Energy Regulation program, I never imagined myself working in the energy sector,” Monicah said.

“I have undergone a wondrous professional evolution and developed interest in working with regional and global energy and utility regulators to improve sustainable use of clean energy and improve delivery of service to citizens.”

Monicah added, “I seek to drive meaningful change in Africa and beyond through promoting renewable energy use in sub-Saharan Africa, which has huge resource potential.”

Looking ahead, Monicah sees new opportunities on the horizon that she would not have thought to pursue without the internship, including studying energy economics at the master’s level.

“This internship not only opened doors for my employment, but also helped me assess what I am good at and what positions would best fit me. The internship experience made me stand out from the competition as a coachable student that can transition easily into the workplace.”

Monicah Kitili now works as an Assistant Energy Planner at the Kenya Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority. Learn more about Monicah’s journey.

Intern Spotlight: Fridah Nkunde

Fridah Nkunde graduated from the University of Zambia, School of Engineering, where she majored in Electrical Machines and Power. As an intern at Zambia’s Energy Regulatory Board (ERB), she quickly became a vital member of the Technical Regulation Department.

As a person who always wanted to work in the energy sector, Fridah explained she is glad she did not “think twice about having gone for the rare opportunity of participating in the Women in Energy Regulation Internship Program.”

At the ERB, she says she is learning “everything there is to know about energy regulation, from the tools and resources essential for delivering on the ERB’s mandate, to the systems that need to be developed to ensure reliable and sustainable energy for everyone.” Fridah is using this opportunity to identify additional skills and knowledge to continue her career development.

She received glowing reviews on the quality of her work and her initiative, leading ERB to extend her internship for another six months at their own cost. The extension will she her take on additional tasks that will serve to further accelerate her growth and learning opportunities.

Fridah believes that the NARUC Women in Energy Regulation Program accorded her the rare opportunity to build relevant experience that she would not have been able to obtain anywhere else. Armed with new skills, she will have an advantage over her peers when pursuing other opportunities in the sector.

Learn More

This story is the second in a three-part series on internship programs for women in the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa. Read our first installment on an apprenticeship program in Rwanda, and keep an eye out for our final story on Kenya’s internship program that spans opportunities across the entire energy sector.

A U.S. Government-led partnership that seeks to add 30,000 MW and 60 million electricity connections in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 > https://bit.ly/2yPx3lJ