Energy 4 Impact and its Senegalese partner Siggil Jigeen have launched two booklets to demonstrate how the wealth generated by the discovery of large oil and gas reserves in Senegal can be invested in renewable energy projects to promote equitable development and women economic empowerment.
Titled Oil and gas windfall: an opportunity for sustainable development and Renewable energy for women's economic empowerment, the booklets are intended to guide civil society organisations and activists in their efforts to generate lasting social and economic change for women and girls in the country. They provide useful advocacy tools that press for the financing of sustainable and inclusive development with a focus on developing the economic activities of women through access to renewable energy technologies as well as the development of their business skills.
The guides have been produced as part of the Deliver for Good campaign. Supported by global advocacy organisation Women Deliver and implemented by Energy 4 Impact and Senegalese NGO Siggil Jigeen, the campaign advocates for the rights of girls and women across twelve critical areas, including economic empowerment and access to resources. In Senegal, Deliver for Good is focussed upon ensuring that investment in renewable energy becomes part of this national conversation and the need for the increased participation of women in the economy is also taken into account by leaders.
The recent discovery of oil and gas reserves approximately 100km off the coast of capital Dakar – one of the largest oil discoveries in the world over the last decade – is expected to generate wealth for Senegal for at least a quarter of a century. If such newfound wealth is wisely reinvested in developing a more sustainable economy which includes women as well as men, it could have a hugely positive impact on the entire population of Senegal.
Oumou Mbaye, Energy 4 Impact’s Advocacy Officer, who heads the campaign on energy access, says:
The anticipated oil wealth offers Senegal a unique opportunity to invest significantly in increasing energy access through renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower or biogas.
About 60% of Senegal’s rural population currently lacks access to electricity. The majority of rural households, institutions and small businesses are forced to rely on hazardous and inefficient energy sources for their energy needs. Nearly half of the population live below the poverty line and experience food insecurity.
Comprising half of the population, women are active at every level of economic and social life in Senegal. However, their productivity is typically lower than men as their access to energy, resources and production inputs is more limited. Increasing access to sustainable energy in rural areas allows for wider use of equipment such as irrigation systems and machinery to process and preserve food – and that is often a game-changer for the female workers that dominate such sectors. Energy access enables women to become the driving force of economic and social transformation in rural areas.
says Oumou Mbaye.
These guides look at the impact renewable energy sources could have on the development of economic sectors such as fishing, agriculture and agro-processing in which women are heavily involved. Women contribute 60 to 80% of the labour in food production for both household consumption and for sale. Women also play a major part in sowing, weeding, application of fertilizers and pesticides, harvesting, threshing, food processing, transportation and marketing.
Agriculture is a key sector of Senegal’s economy as it accounts for two-thirds of export revenues and employs 40% of the population. However, only 5% of the land is irrigated and agricultural production only contributes 17% to GDP. There is a strong case therefore for improving productivity and food security by developing the market for solar-powered milling, ice making, cold storage for agricultural produce, water pumping and irrigation in off-grid areas.
Other factors already in play have seen demand for solar energy rising sharply in Senegal: a growing population, the falling cost of solar devices and the mooted decentralisation of electricity production and liberalisation of the energy market, amongst others. Demand for solar energy is expected to rise so fast in the decade up to 2030 that IRENA projects that Senegal will experience the fourth strongest demand in the ECOWAS region, just behind Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.
says Oumou Mbaye.
The guides provide some recommendations for action that would help create a more inclusive and sustainable economy and so have a beneficial effect on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable sectors of the population:
- Increasing private investment in the production and distribution sector through an incentivising regulatory and financial framework;
- Increasing decentralised renewable energy generation and access to off-grid technologies in rural areas;
- Setting up a tax model for activities related to the exploitation of future fossil energies to strengthen the financing of the exploitation of renewable energy sources;
- Developing professional training to increase women's involvement in the energy and energy efficiency sector;
- Supporting projects that involve women in the productive use of energy in rural and peri-urban areas.