Libreville outcome statement on women entrepreneurs and sustainable energy in Africa

This statement is the outcome of The Women Entrepreneurs and Sustainable Energy Workshop, which took place from 13-14 June in Libreville, Gabon, alongside the Sixteenth Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment.

The workshop brought together more than 100 women energy entrepreneurs and experts in energy policy, financing, and capacity building. It was co-organized by UN Environment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Iceland, United Nations University Gender Equality and Studies Programme (UNU-GEST), UN Women, and Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

Read more about the workshop in a separate post.

Key areas of concern

The outcome statement was developed through intensive group and plenary discussions on three central subjects:

  1. Environmentally sustainable and gender responsive energy policies
  2. Access to finance and market for women energy entrepreneurs across the value chain
  3. Capacity building and skills on technical and business aspects for entrepreneurs.

Participants recognized the critical role of women entrepreneurs as agents of change in empowering families, communities and nations in increasing sustainable energy in Africa. They recommended the development and strengthening of policies to empower women to engage in sustainable, affordable and clean energy development, and to enhance their entrepreneurship skills, access to finance and markets across the value chain in the energy sector. Further, participants were concerned about the challenges faced by women in accessing resources such as land, finance and information to facilitate their engagement in sustainable energy initiatives. Another cause for concern is the current limited participation of women in decision-making and policy processes at the community, national, sub-regional and regional levels in the energy sector.

To address the challenges highlighted, workshop participants proposed a series of actions related to the three central areas of concern, as follows.

Environmentally sustainable and gender responsive energy policies

  • Develop and operationalize environmentally sustainable gender responsive energy policies and mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments into means of implementation, budgets, social protection mechanisms and investments.
  • Develop and operationalize environmentally sustainable and gender responsive accountability frameworks to monitor and report on the gender impacts, targets and results of energy policies.
  • Promote enabling policy mechanisms informed by gender analysis and sex- and age- disaggregated data to accelerate the sustainable growth of micro, small, medium and large women-led enterprises across the energy value chain.
  • Develop and operationalize affirmative actions and accountability mechanisms that will facilitate the effective participation of women entrepreneurs in policy making processes.
  • Strengthen the role of UN Environment and other development partners to play a catalytic role in supporting national governments to harmonize, develop and operationalize cross cutting integrated policies that link energy, environment, gender, finance and other line agencies, and support the translation of such policies in Nationally Determined Contributions.

Access to finance and market for women energy entrepreneurs across the value chain

Remove barriers that hinder women entrepreneurs access to affordable finance by promoting innovative financial mechanisms

  • Facilitate access to finance from multi-lateral agencies and development partners (e.g. GEF, GCF, World Bank, AfDB, EU, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Iceland, SIDA, NORAD and others) to support women entrepreneurship development programmes in the energy sector.
  • Promote an inclusive enabling environment through instruments such as a guarantee facility that allows women to effectively compete in sustainable energy markets.
  • Develop and implement GEF Energy Impact Programme and others that promote women’s entrepreneurship across sustainable energy value chains in Africa.
  • Integrate gender and sustainable energy curricula into educational programmes from primary school level to universities, including vocational and technical training institutions.

Capacity building and skills on technical and business aspects for entrepreneurs

  • Develop and operationalize capacity development programmes (scholarships, mentoring, internships and others) that will enhance the skills, knowledge and employability of women in the energy sector.
  • Sensitize the general public, including men and boys, on the importance of integrating women and girls in the energy sector.
  • Establish a network of African Women Entrepreneurs in the Energy Sector to exchange, learn and share knowledge and resources.