Plans are underway by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), to initiate policies that will ease the participation of women in business activities in the oil and gas industry.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, who stated this at the close of a workshop organised for women in the oil and gas industry in Lagos, explained that the planned policies include access to funding, the award of contracts, and support for research and development.
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’s 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, to underpin the need for the move.
He said: “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 percent 24 percent between the middle and executive level.”
Wabote said the Board would review its strategy on the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund), saying: “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.”
He disclosed that two companies managed by women have benefitted from the NCI Fund owing to a deliberate action of the NCDMB.
He also 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.
He further said the NCDMB would 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 in order for them to get support.
He added: “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 NCDMB for organising the workshop, and described Wabote as an epitome of what humanity stands for.
She expressed the hope that the workshop would catalyse other dialogues to be initiated by the Board and complement other on-going 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 emphasized that effective implementation of gender-related policies is dependent on actions were 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.
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.
In her goodwill message, the Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, charged career women to define themselves around capacity and capability and not just because they are women.
She charged people 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.