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. This first feature of our three-part series focuses on an apprenticeship program in Rwanda.
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.
WOMEN IN RWANDAN ENERGY (WIRE)
The Power Africa-supported Women in Rwandan Energy (WIRE) initiative is working with the Rwandan Government and the private sector to bring 1,400 women into the fast-growing Rwandan energy sector. To support that goal, WIRE started an apprenticeship program in 2020 and is collaborating with Rwandan energy companies to provide on-the-job training to 115 female graduates from universities and technical colleges through a three-month apprentice program.
“Getting your first job after leaving school is difficult for everyone, but it is especially challenging for women in fields dominated by men, like the energy sector,” said Claire Nelson, the USAID Climate Change and Energy Advisor in Rwanda. “The WIRE Apprenticeship Program helps recent graduates find placements in energy companies, where they gain the skills and experience needed to launch their careers. The apprentices also change the mindsets of companies and the communities in which they work by proving that women are just as capable as men. This helps pave the way for more opportunities for women in the future.”
With USAID support, WIRE plans to extend the apprenticeship program to Tanzania later this year.
Intern Spotlight: Diane Dusabe
“When I was young, I had a dream of becoming a civil engineer. It was not easy, and I encountered some obstacles. As a woman I worked very hard to make my dreams come true and complete my degree. Through WIRE, I received an apprenticeship opportunity at East African Power, Ltd. (EAP), and I loved the job. Some of my colleagues were surprised to see me as the first structural engineer in EAP, but I believed that through hard work every woman can be where she wants to be. The apprenticeship gave me an additional opportunity for full-time employment and I am more than happy to remain at EAP.”
Intern Spotlight: Adeline Icyimpaye
Adeline Icyimpaye holds a master’s degree in water policy and a bachelor’s degree in soil and water management, but her interest in energy stems from her background in physics and mathematics. Through WIRE, Adeline is currently an apprentice in energy engineering at Rwanda’s MunyaxEco, Ltd.
“I believe women’s brains have the same abilities as men’s, we should not be scared, we should believe in ourselves and train our body and mind to adapt to any situation. It’s up to us to chase and follow our dreams regardless of cultural barriers and tradition. We are no longer afraid of being rejected by employers due to lack of experience and/or skills, and we have no doubt that we can secure jobs and other future endeavors in our career. The workforce readiness skills training that was provided by WIRE was an eye opener and skills sharpener, the knowledge and skills we received will speed up our success in career development. To my sisters, I challenge you to break taboos, challenge normality, and attempt the impossible.”
This story is the first in a three-part series on internship programs for women in the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa. Our second installment will focus on opportunities in energy regulation and the third on opportunities spanning Kenya’s entire energy sector.