Women trailblazers in oil

Peninah Aheebwa, Director Technical Services Petroleum Authority of Uganda

What you need to know:

The Energy ministry currently stewarding the next development phase of the oil sector to start commercial oil production by 2025. There also several women in leadership positions across the board in the energy sector. We take a look at a few of them.

Uganda joins the rest of the world today in commemorating the International Women’s Day, to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

The celebrations under the theme: “Breaking the Bias,” will be held at Kololo Independence Grounds.

While the UN Women, a United Nations agency dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women, says women remain underrepresented at all levels of decision-making worldwide and often hold offices without any real power, in Uganda, there have been numerous strides towards women empowerment.

 For instance, the country is ranked 10th among African countries with the highest proportion of seats held by women in Parliament (MPs). This means three in every 10 of Uganda’s Members of Parliament are women, representing 33 percent of all 529 legislators. This representation further cascades to several high ranking offices in the land, where women hold portfolios considered crucial to government or close to the President’s agenda for his sixth elective term in office. From Ministers to Permanent Secretaries to chief executive officers to Commissioners, the list is long.

The Energy ministry currently stewarding the next development phase of the oil sector to start commercial oil production by 2025, and several other big ticket projects crystallised in the government policy blueprint, the National Development Plan III is shepherded by women, out of the staff of about 511 of which 193 are females.

Here are some of the top women making their mark in the oil industry.

Peninah Aheebwa  - Director Technical Services Petroleum Authority of Uganda

She joined in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in 2002 and rose through the ranks to the position of principal petroleum officer in 2015 before crossing to Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).

She started her career journey in 2002 with the Ministry as a Statistician dealing with data analytics on energy supply and consumption to inform policy, work plans and budgets in electricity, new/renewables and non-renewable energies.

Shortly after she moved to a senior role as a Senior Development Analyst, leading research, and analysis to inform the priorities of the organisation. Within two years she had moved to a senior management role as a Principle Petroleum Economist, focusing on the oil and gas sector.

She supported the nascent oil and gas sector to undertake a successful policy/legal/institutional reform including the review of the fiscal regime and execute the first competitive licensing round. She also completed a few sale and purchase transactions.

The Energy Economist by profession holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics from Makerere University, a Master of Arts degree in Economic Policy and Planning from Makerere University and a Master of Science degree in Energy Studies specialised in oil and gas economics from the University of Dundee.

She has worked with the PAU since 2017, being in charge of economic regulation, cost monitoring and the participation of Ugandans in the sector. Her successes include buildinga high performing team. She also spearheaded negotiations that resolved the commercial deadlocks to enable the international oil companies (IOCs) operating in the country to take forward the projects to the development phase. She has increased cost savings in the International Oil Company’s operations (close to $374million).

She has grown employment of Ugandans in the sector from 218 (84 percent) in 2017 and 166 (89 percent) at the end of 2020.

 She has increased training of Ugandans in oil as gas disciplines and skills, increased visibility of Ugandan enterprises; 1488 enterprises registered on the National Supplier Database, and increased visibility of Ugandans with the required skills; 3390 Ugandans registered on the National Oil and Gas Talent Register.


Ms Ruth Nankabirwa,Minister of Energy and Mineral Development 
 

Ms Ruth Nankabirwa - Minister of Energy and Mineral Development

In June last year, President Museveni appointed Ms Nankabirwa as minister of Energy and Miniral Development replacing Dr Goretti Kitutu, who also replaced Engineer Irene Muloni, now the Presidential Advisor on oil and gas.

Catherine Tumusiime - Chief Human Resource Officer Uganda National Oil Company

Catherine Tumusiime - Chief Human Resource Officer Uganda National Oil Company

She previously served as Manager, Human Resource and Administration at the electricity regulator. Electricity Regulatory Authority.

Justine Kasigwa - Director ICT and Data Management Petroleum Authority of Uganda

Justine Kasigwa - Director ICT and Data Management Petroleum Authority of Uganda

She told Daily Monitor of her desire to inspire more women to rise to leadership positions and make significant contribution to the success, quoting a line by the Canadian feminist and mayor of the Canadian city of Ottawa,   “Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”

Irene Batebe - Permanent Secretary Minister of Energy and Mineral Development 

Irene Batebe - Permanent Secretary Minister of Energy and Mineral Development 

Prior to her appointment last July, Ms Batebe, a Chemical and Process Engineer by training, was another technocrat in the ministry as part of the team working to get Uganda’s Greenfield refinery operational.

Proscovia Nabbanja, Chief executive officer at Uganda National Oil Company 

Proscovia Nabbanja - Chief executive officer at Uganda National Oil Company 

We do not work hours but assignments. We are supposed to work 8:00am - 5:00pm. I set monthly and weekly targets. I choose whether to stay late and complete the tasks of the week in a few days, or stay them. We prefer not to keep an idle mind, so a person can leave when they feel they are not in the right mood to deliver but return any time when they want to. We agreed with my direct supervisor that effectiveness is better than me sitting at station for a whole day.

This freedom makes one work longer hours unknowingly because you are driven by ability. The best way to work is task based. I am more productive this way, though it requires a great deal of personal drive and discipline.

Additional reporting by Frederic Musisi.

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