Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Maureen Okpe

The Founder/ Chief Executive Officer of The Skilled Women Initiative (TSWINI) Chisom Nwankwo has expressed concern over the limited involvement of women in technological advancements in Nigeria, calling for more women to participate in order to narrow the gender gap in the industry.

Nwankwo raised the concern during an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Abuja, the nations capital.

The CEO  highlighted the lack of awareness among society and women about the reality and opportunities in the tech field, emphasizing the importance of increasing awareness among women about the benefits of pursuing a career in technology.

She noted that this stems from the home front, as Nigerian parents push their male children into science related courses and tend to gear the female away from the field with the thought that, it is a difficult terrain for women and girls.

She stated that, untill recently the only science related courses parent advice their female ward to delve in is the study of medicine, making the space for role models almost absent for the girl child.

She said, “I don’t think there is enough encouragement and role models and the few gives the impression that it is very difficult, which is discouraging. 

In Nigeria particularly the space is thin, I cannot think of any friend of mine that is in mechanical engineering.

“We are looking for female mechanics it’s still very hard to find them. It t has to take a conscious effort to encourage women in this field. It doesn’t have to be the whole mechanic at least a section.

It is a very interesting space where I hope to see more women in.

“Parents also want their male children more in engineering related courses, instead of encouraging both sex, with the feeling that it is hard for girls. We need more parents to encourage  their daughter with the knowledge that this is a great space for them.”

Speaking on the need for the country to be innovative in the quest for alternatives to oil, the Executive Director said, “Right now, Nigeria is in a crisis situation owing to the steady increase in petroleum products and we have to look for a way to overcome this crisis. This is because there is a tendency that the prices of oil will still increase. 

“Notice that some of the multinational companies are leaving, changing their name and moving from oil deposits, with all these, the easiest way to go is electric, as this is an easier alternative than trying to do every other thing.

“The technology is easy for us to learn, something we can adopt easily and create our own because we have the resources. 

We have hydrogen, CNG which have been in Nigeria for over a while yet people are not eager to adopt it.

“This technology is just like charging your phone, you know when it’s full or running down.

“Create the awareness for e-mobility. People might be scared due to fluctuating power system in Nigeria but our watch ward is drive electric, charge solar. This is looking at also powering the home with solar energy as it will not make much sense if our cars are electric and at home we do not have light, but with solar they can both be assured of power. This is also looking at going green and going off grid.

“This is because the power sector over time have failed to live up to expectations, so going off grid with the use of solar power, so that we can use at home and then charge our cars.

“E-mobility is not as difficult as people think as when they hear the term, they are thinking Tesla, yes it is in line but not as expensive and complicated . We downplay it in ways that is easily comprehensible and accessible like the tricycle(Keke) instead of being powered by fuel it is powered by electric,that is how simple. 

“This will also reduce the cost of transportation to what we used to have, thats how we should see e-mobility in Nigeria, not from the very high level of very expensive items which we cannot deny is there.

“When it comes to e-mobility there is no emission, it is just the powered batteries except for during production which if compared to fuel is better as the CO  emission is minimal. On the scale of 1 to 10 as against petrol cars is 9. No pollution and so quiet. Just and a lot cleaner. Nigeria is trying to get to carbon neutrality in 2060 and transportation constitutes over 70 % of that carbon in the environment.

Nwankwo speaking further noted, Implementation of law as a problem and a major setback in Nigeria, but a look at the waste management sector which over the past five years have changed dramatically with private companies in the space. 

“If we do the same with e-mobility and not put government in the forefront. As it will be easier when the private sector put some things in place  before engaging the government with consultations and adjustments of policies. Because when this things are in place then we have something to talk about.”

On the issues of imitation and substandard products, Nwankwo noted, “I will always say it is when people want to cut corners, they will want to go for the cheap item, there will always be standard places you can go and verify these things. People that have been doing it for quite some time. There will always be people that will come up with fake technologies but how we can verify boils down to certifications and government recommendations but then, that is also a long road.

“When I talk about policy this is the area I mean where government recommendation is necessary, create a portal where verified organisations can be sourced. this things are not capital intensive before government will complain of not having it in the budget. So that people can get to verify genuine outlet, because there will always be fake items out there.

“For me Nigeria should start producing our own solar panels. This is mainly made with sand which is in abundance in Nigeria. We can also bring in experts from foreign countries to train Nigerians. For my company when we engage foreigners for contracts and training we intimate them on the fact that technical vocational skills is part of the deal. 

“It might not be immediately but in the long run we always have that term outlined as part of the deal. For any private sector to engage in foreign contracts that should be on their table to adapt their skills and learn as hands on skill learning takes you higher. But common practice is just to import, sell and import again. It’s not just about the government but the dealings with the companies.

She disclosed plans to train women on assembling, battery charging, installation  and other aspects of the E-mobility and start up equipment will be provided. We are not just training them and leaving them at that. After training we still have them under us and provide some avenue for them to work.

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