Women in Energy: Meet Africa’s Most Empowering Entrepreneurs

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August is Women’s Month in South Africa and Africa Oil & Power (AOP) has dedicated this week to empowering women in the African energy sector through the Women in Energy series.

In May, AOP pledged its commitment to the Equalby30 campaign to advance the participation of women in the clean energy transition. The campaign aims to achieve a minimum of 30% female participation across all facets of a participating organization, with progress assessed on a yearly basis. To learn more about the campaign and how your organization could participate, please visit https://www.equalby30.org/en

The global energy sector has been a male dominated industry for many years. However, several women have stood out. The following women represent female oil and gas leaders. They are inspiring examples of hard work and determination, showcasing female talent and reducing female underrepresentation.

Nelisiwe Magubane: South Africa

Nelisiwe Magubane holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration. She started her career at Eskom, South Africa’s electricity utility and quickly rose up the corporate ladder, joining the Department of Minerals and Energy as the Chief Director responsible for the restructuring of the electricity sector through the planning and implementing of the electrification program.

Magubane served as Director General of Energy between 2009 and 2014. When her contract ended in 2014, she established Matleng Energy Solutions, a 70% women owned company that provides energy solutions to client energy challenges.

An expert advisor in energy regulation, policy and procurement, Magubane works with the government of Tanzania on the design of their reverse auctions and with consulting and engineering firm Tetratech in restructuring Tanesco, the Tanzanian electricity utility. Additionally, she has been appointed to the Board of State Information and Technology Agency as a Non-Executive Director, a member of the Thebe Energy and Resources Advisory Council and as a Non-Executive Director for Eskom Holdings SOC LTD.

Magubane was named one of the top 50 most influential figures in the Southern African Power sector by the ESI Africa Magazine in 2018.

Maria da Cruz; Angola

Maria da Cruz is president and CEO of the U.S. Angola Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has been promoting trade investments between the U.S and Angola for 30 years and has indirectly contributed to the development of the economy and the energy sector.

Da Cruz has been an active speaker regarding the Angolan energy sector and its development. As president and CEO of the U.S. Angola Chamber of Commerce, she is an advocate for gender equality and through her platform, promotes equal opportunities in the workplace for women in Africa and the globe.

Taciana Peâo Lopes: Mozambique

Taciana Peâo Lopes is a Mozambican energy/oil and gas lawyer with over 17 years’ experience in the field. Accredited as the founder and managing partner of Taciana Peâo Lopes & Associados, a law firm focused on assisting the development of energy and infrastructure projects in Mozambique, Lopes advises developers, sponsors, investors, multinational lenders and commercial banks.

Lopes and her team of lawyers successfully advised the sponsors of the Mocuba Solar Power Project, the first Mozambican photovoltaic plant. Additionally, she has been involved in the first LNG export project in Mozambique through the drafting and negotiations with the government of the legal instruments required for the creation of a new legal framework for the implementation and financing for Mozambique LNG, one of the largest LNG projects in the world.

Due to her experience in the energy sector, she was a part of the team of advisers to the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy of the government of Mozambique that drafted the Electricity Law and respective regulations.

Lopes is the co-founder of Mozambique Women of Energy (MWE), a platform of women in all fields of the energy sector with the vision of improving the quality of life in Mozambique by facilitating equal access to energy for all. She is also a founder and sponsor of Waza, a Mozambican think and do tank, and part of the network of the Graça Machel Trust Foundation; Women Advancing Africa, and the Mozambican Associations Femme; Women in Business and New Faces New Voices.

Selma Usiku; Namibia

Selma Usiku holds a Master’s in Petroleum Geoscience from Royal Holloway University in London. She is the Head Exploration Geologist at Azinam, a leading oil and gas exploration company focused on rapidly progressing the exciting opportunities in Namibia.

She is an experienced exploration geologist with a demonstrated history of working in the Namibian Oil and Energy Industry. Her skills include Petroleum Geoscience, 3D Seismic Interpretation, Earth Sciences and Petroleum Geology.

Usiku started her career with the Brazilian Oil and Gas company HRT before joining Azinam. She is the only female geo-scientist in Azinam and in 2018 was awarded the Global Women Petroleum & Energy Club Award for Excellence in Africa. The award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates excellence in Africa’s oil and gas sector. Selma is seen as a role model for young women looking to enter the industry.

Keep following the Women in Energy series this week to find out more about other influential women making a difference and leading the way in the African energy sector.