Towards promoting a vantage point for women in the oil and gas, as well as renewable energy sectors, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Kesiye Wabote, an engineer, has assured that the disbursement of a N16.6billion Women in Energy Fund will begin very soon.
Wabote was speaking at the Nigerian Women in Oil and Gas Conference in Lagos recently, where he revealed that 15 applications had been received and three of those had been approved to get part of the fund.
Following the slow pace of women participation in the energy sector, the NCDMB partnered with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) to raise the fund to promote more activities for the female gender in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Although women make up 48 per cent of the global labour force, they only account for 22 per cent of the labour force in the oil and gas sector and 32 per cent in renewables, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
To increase women’s participation in the oil and gas industry, the NCDMB has been doing a lot. In October 2019, the NCDMB boss, Wabote announced that the Board would commence formulation of gender-friendly policies aimed at increasing access to funding, award of contracts and support for research and development, for the benefit of women operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Wabote, in his recent address at the women forum, said 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.
“It is estimated that women occupy about 50 per cent of non-technical positions at entry-level compared to only 15 per cent 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 per cent to 24 per cent between the middle and executive level,” he noted, citing a study by the Global Energy Talent Index Report.
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 (NLNG) Train 7 project.
He also promised that the NCDMB would encourage the study of sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics 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.
But this is not the first time the NCDMB is promoting such deliberate intervention. In 2017, the Board, in partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI), launched a $200m Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCIF) to provide low cost and accessible credit to service companies.
Wabote had said last year that about 85 per cent of the fund had been accessed by Nigerian companies. The fund has about five products: equipment financing, contract financing, manufacturing, loan refinancing and community contractor refinancing.
The loan interest rate, which is fixed at 8 per cent with a five years span for repayment and one-year moratorium, has enabled most Nigerian companies to refinance their loans.
$40m fund and its role
The NCDMB and NEXIM, on July 1, 2021, began the rollout of a $40million intervention fund for qualified women entrepreneurs in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
And towards implementing the women in energy fund, the Diversity Sectoral Working Group was inaugurated in 2021 to facilitate the collaboration of stakeholders and the development of ideas for the advancement of Nigerian Content in the oil and gas industry.
Wabote, at the recent women forum in Lagos, said the creation of the diversity SWG was a product of the Women in Oil & Gas workshop organised by the Board in October 2019.
Under the scheme, the NCDMB is contributing $20m to the pool, and it will be matched by the same amount in naira by NEXIM to cover manufacturing, oil service contracts, environment management, leasing, logistics, catering and training.
The target beneficiaries are firms where women hold a majority shareholding of 51 per cent or where at least 50 per cent of management are women, or where the chief executive officers and at least 40 per cent of management are women.
A single obligor can borrow up to $500,000 or its naira equivalent and have it for a five-year tenor at just 5 per cent interest rate annually.
Commenting on the process, the managing director of NEXIM Bank, Abubakar Bello, had said the partnership with the Board fitted into the bank’s framework for supporting inclusion, as well as its strategy to grow the service industry in Nigeria and take it to the point of export to the West African region and other oil and gas economies.
Providing an update on the fund status at the conference organised by the NCDMB in partnership with the Diversity Sectoral Working Group of the NCCF, Wabote said an online portal for the fund was launched earlier in June to speed up the process and reduce human interface in the application process.
He commended the performance of women in various roles in the oil and gas industry and canvassed for their inclusion in the administration of the various trusts and funds that were established by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, like the Host Community Development Trust, Host Community Development Trust Fund and Environmental Remediation Fund.
Also speaking at the forum, especially on the administration of the Women in Energy Fund, the managing director of NEXIM Bank, Mr Abba Bello, explained that applicants would need to meet set criteria before they could access the fund.
Bello said, “It is a loan and not a grant, and applicants have to meet the conditions so we can achieve the intended purpose,” he said.
Represented by the head of Specialised Products at the Bank, Mr Mohammed Aumiz, the NEXIM Bank boss explained that it would take only 22 days for an application to be processed and an offer letter issued if the company met the criteria.
On his part, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, at the conference, called for more participation of women in the oil and gas industry, stressing that harnessing their natural strength, intuition, knowledge and expertise for the growth of the industry had become imperative.
Sylva said women needed one another to survive the realities of the oil and gas sector, whether locally or internationally, stressing that more strides could be achieved if women groups in the industry embraced one another, adding that it was time to work together in championing the cause of women in the industry.
With the recent appointment of Elohor Aiboni as the managing director of Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production as Company (SNEPCo) and Margrey Okadigbo as pioneer chair Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, the minister said Nigeria would not be left behind in its determination to ensure adequate representation of women in the industry.
Okadigbo urged the NCDMB to consider replicating one of its flagship capacity building programmes, Project-100 Module, for the empowerment of Nigerian women in the oil and gas industry.
She said Project-100 was an initiative of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, alongside the NCDMB, to look holistically at 100 wholly indigenous oil and gas companies and nurture them to the next level by enhancing their capacities, supporting them financially through the NCI Fund and helping them to find opportunities in the industry, in collaboration with the NNPC.
“I am appealing to the NCDMB leadership to consider a replication of the NCDMB Project-100 Module for women in oil and gas business. We believe this would further help to encourage more women participation in the industry,” the NNPC Board chairperson said.