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Date: 25 Aug 2011
Title: Energy opportunities on the cards for women
By Kemantha Govender
Durban - A number of jobs and business opportunities will arise as government continues to design implementation programmes that favour renewable energy and energy efficiency.
This information was made available at a workshop for women organised by the national Department of Energy. The aim of the day-long meeting was to help women understand this sector and the potential it holds for them in terms of job creation and business ventures.
Deputy Minister of Energy, Barbara Thompson, during her address said initiatives like the solar water geysers will give women an opportunity to participate in the installation and maintenance processes.
China has committed to train women in the installation of solar water geysers.
"Once trained, these women will return to start their own enterprises or join other entrepreneurs in this area while training more women," added Thompson.
The issue of funding did arise during the workshop, but has been addressed and plans to increase the number of geysers are on the cards.
Funding, it seems, is one of the biggest problems facing women who are trying to break into the energy industry in its different fields.
Thomson listened to women who relayed stories of not being able to access finance to buy petrol stations or engage in other energy projects.
She said the Integrated Resources Plan (IRP), approved by Cabinet in March this year, does pay attention to South Africa's changing energy needs.
"It talks to the importance of access to energy and an energy mix benefitting the designated groups, especially women who are major users thereof," said Thompson.
The plan also seeks to stimulate local manufacturing capacity for the green economy and job creation. Thompson encouraged the women to also consider opportunities in the manufacturing of energy products.
Thoko Gulube, a representative from Women in Oil and Energy South Africa (WOESA), told BuaNews that skill shortages and finance rank among the most significant challenges that women face when they approach WOESA.
"It's important to get young females to acquire hard skills and study manufacturing and project management," Gulube said.
WOESA, a NGO, helps women who are in the oil, gas and renewable energy businesses. They provide training and networking opportunities for women.
The department also wants to ensure that women start connecting to take clean energy to the next level.
Just a few days ago, the Energy Department launched the Clean Energy, Education and Empowerment Initiative (C3E).
C3E, said Thompson, wants to inspire you women to purse clean energy related studies. It wants to provide real-life, hands-on experience through team research opportunities in partnership with academic institutions.
"The participation of women at this event was excellent and I am confident it has laid a solid basis that will increase the footprint of women in the energy sector," said Thompson.
Meanwhile, the Integrated National Electrification programme has been yielding positive results. In 2010, 5 000 jobs were created nationwide and women benefitted from this programme, said Thompson.
"Through this programme, we are focusing on access for rural areas in an attempt to improve the lives of people in those areas," added Thompson.
The department is also looking into establishing Integrated Energy Centres in rural areas. - BuaNews