Ensuring more women participate in the renewable energy market will help Rwanda to achieve its energy transition and 100% electrification goals, according to the Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete.
Gatete was speaking during an online press conference in which the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) launched its new report on employment trends within the renewables sector in 2020.
Commenting on the findings of the Renewable Energy and Jobs – annual review 2021 report, Francesco La Camera, director-general of IRENA, said in 2020 “women accounted for one-third of all jobs, better than the conventional sector but it is not enough. For the energy transition to be an achievable one, it needs to be just and inclusive.”
Gatete added that Rwanda is targeting to achieve 100% electricity access by 2030, and increasing the participation and role of women is vital to achieving the goal.
Gatete, said: “It’s a big challenge, currently we are at 66% of electrification and it has been a long journey from 1% in 1994.”
He said the participation of women in the energy sector has been limited by the lack of skilled female candidates to fill roles including engineers.
Gatete said: “There were not many in science and technology. However, we are seeing more females being involved in the electrical engineering segment and enrolment is increasing.
“The government has embarked on an initiative to make sure women are well placed and the mechanisms include a written programme and that more funds are being directed towards the implementation of the roadmap.”
However, the minister said that the private sector and individual companies operating in Rwanda need to “take into consideration gender mainstreaming,” to ensure a just and inclusive energy transition.
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Gatete however admitted the role played by partnerships between the government and the private sector in improving access to electricity over the past decades. He said the same concept needs to be taken advantage of to reach a target of having renewables representing 60% of total electricity in the energy mix by 2030.
Today, Rwanda is sourcing 90% of its electricity from projects developed by the private sector, according to Gatete. 100% of off-grid and solar mini-grids deployed in Rwanda are owned by the private sector.
The minister also discussed the role partnerships between neighboring countries can play in ensuring energy security and decarbonisation.
“With renewable energy now critical for us. Expanding our generation portfolio and transmission and distribution is creating a lot of jobs which is helping us to revive our economy,” he reiterated.