Women operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry will soon benefit from gender friendly policies on access to funding, award of contracts and support for research and development, courtesy of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote announced this at the close of the workshop it organised for women in oil and gas industry in Lagos.
He noted that since the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act was instituted as a deliberate agenda to get more Nigerians to participate in the oil and gas industry, there should also be special initiatives to encourage women participation in the sector.
He quoted a recent study by the Global Energy Talent Index Report which indicated that there is a chronic shortage of women in the oil and gas industry.
”It is estimated that women occupy about 50 percent of non-technical positions at entry level compared to only 15 percent of technical and field role positions.
“Gender diversity decreases with seniority with only a tiny proportion of women in executive positions. The percentage of women in the industry drops over time from 36 percent 24 percent between the middle and executive level.”
He said NCDMB will review its strategy on the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund), adding that ”access to finance is very important and we will look at our policy to see how we can support women who are serious to do business.”
Already two companies managed by women have benefitted from the NCI Fund because NCDMB took deliberate actions to ensure that, Wabote said.
The Executive Secretary assured that the Board would work with project promoters in the oil and gas industry to ensure the award of some contracts to companies owned by women, including the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company, which is set to start the execution of the Train 7 project.
NCDMB would also encourage the study of sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by young girls in secondary schools and drive the collation of data on women who participate in various sectors of the oil and gas industry, so they can receive support, he promised.
The Executive Secretary confirmed that ”out of the total number trained by the Board, women constitute about 20 percent of the trainees and we hope to increase the number of women trained to meet up the industry skilled labour demand.”
Delivering the keynote address at the event, the Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan commended the Executive Secretary NCDMB for organising the workshop irrespective of his gender, stating that Engr. Simbi is an epitome of what humanity stands for. She expressed hope that the workshop would catalyse other dialogues to be initiated by the Board and complement other ongoing activities, programmes and policies of government to propel Nigeria to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goals 4, 5 and 10.
She insisted that Nigeria should “go beyond the rhetoric of having a quota for women in decision making or other
strategic positions by ensuring that the country
maximizes the economic potential of its whole labour force by promoting equal rights, access and opportunities for all at all levels.”
She emphasized that effective implementation of gender related policies is dependent on actions taken by women to acquire the
requisite skills for technical positions taking into cognizance that affirmative action is not geared towards jettisoning quality for quantity.
Mrs. Yemi-Esan underscored the need for present and aspiring female industry professionals to pursue technically inclined disciplines, which will in turn expose them to better opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
She assured of the commitment and collaboration of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to facilitate the formulation of gender smart policies as well as supporting relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies in gathering reliable women specific data for the industry.
“We will also uphold gender-responsible budgeting through the expansion of gender desks, which are targeted at ensuring the inclusion of women and girls in their respective activities,” she said.
In a goodwill message she delivered at the event, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman charged career women to define themselves around capacity and capability and not just because they are women. “When you get there, you must prove that you are capable.”
She charged persons in authority to mentor young girls and consciously accommodate the needs of young working mums, so they can remain in employment and gain needed experience and competences that will position them for promotion into executive positions years later.
“You need to give a long rope to the mum that doesn’t come to work because her child was vaccinated or has to attend a school function for her child,” she said.
The workshop featured three panel discussions on Key success factors for female corporate executives and entrepreneurs in oil and gas industry; Partnerships, Programmes and Structures for women in the oil and gas industry and Overcoming barriers to career progression and mentoring the next generation.