In Nigeria, the Power Africa Aspire Women’s Leadership Development Course has equipped more than 500 women professionals in the energy sector with the skills they need to advance and excel in their careers.
A Power Africa gender analysis in Nigeria found that women are underrepresented at all levels of the power sector, including public institutions; generation, transmission, and distribution companies; and the off-grid/renewable sector. Senior management positions in the sector are predominantly filled by men.
Educate a Woman and You Educate a Nation
In October 2020, Tosin Timitimi, an energy lawyer and legal contract officer at the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, attended the first-of-its-kind Power Africa “Aspire: Women’s Leadership Development Course.”
During this two-week training course, Tosin and her classmates learned and developed a range of competencies and skills for management and professional advancement that they can apply to their careers in the energy sector.
In keeping with the African proverb, “Educate a woman and you educate a nation,” Power Africa developed the Aspire program to address the shortage of women leaders in the industry. Aspire is a two-week, facilitated, online training course that provides talented junior and mid-level women in the energy sector with management, leadership, and professional skills to advance in their current roles and over their long-term careers. Participants bring one to seven years of work experience in the energy sector and come from government, private sector, and civil society entities. To date, Aspire has reached more than 500 Nigerian women from 60 organizations across the energy sector.
The 40-hour curriculum covers 20 competency-based modules over the two-week period. Competencies were identified as skills gaps that contribute to excellent job performance and career growth in the sector, from use of technology, business communication skills, and presentation and public speaking skills, to business etiquette, networking, and strategic planning.
Paying an Experience Forward
After graduating from the course, Tosin wanted to pay her experience forward.
Once back in the workplace, she created an internal training course based on Aspire. Her focus was training the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members within her organization on the Aspire tenets. She adapted the modules to address the experience and mobility of this group of junior professionals.
“I’ve always had a passion for teaching,” remarked Tosin, “and the USAID Power Africa Aspire Course gave me the content and skills that I need to thrive in the workplace and energy sector. I took what I learned and conducted a three-day course the young women found very relevant and motivating. The sessions were interactive, the participants asked questions about their careers in the energy and extractives industry, and the training increased their interest in the energy sector. They asked questions on how to seek out mentors in the field and organizations to volunteer with. Some of my senior colleagues also came for the sessions!”
Equipped with skills and knowledge she acquired from the Aspire course, Tosin has trained 35 NYSC members on available career paths and requisite skills to thrive in an energy sector career. Her training also gives tips on how to prepare an elevator pitch, make the most of technology, and improve public speaking and presentation skills.
Making an Impact
The Power Africa Aspire course is preparing women to lead successful careers in the energy industry and ultimately advance the development of the power sector in Nigeria. The impact of the course is being felt far beyond the Power Africa classroom, with many of the course alumni gaining more responsibility at work, negotiating higher pay, and mentoring their colleagues.
“This initiative has been impactful,” says Tosin, “and we have seen some of the participants take what we taught them and go on to volunteer for organizations like the United Nations. I have also been approached to train the oil and gas department on these topics for the Ministry. I plan to expand my team and train every NYSC batch that joins the Ministry and am working with Human Resources to integrate this training into the NYSC program.”
Power Africa is committed to implementing gender-responsive interventions and supporting policies and activities aimed at improving equitable inclusion in Nigeria’s energy sector and across Africa. Our interventions range from maximizing opportunities to include women in decision-making and leadership roles, facilitating the adoption of sound policies and leading practices to promote gender equality in public and private energy institutions (including our collaboration with USAID’s Engendering Industries program), and developing a robust network of women with relevant technical and professional skills to meet sector labor demands.
If you are interested in learning more about Power Africa’s Aspire program, upcoming events, or participating in a training, please email us at email@example.com.
 The NYSC is a national one-year mandatory work experience program for new university graduates.