Women in the extractive industry in Kenya want Parliament to fast track legislations in the sector to facilitate equal access to the vast opportunities available there.
Leaders of various lobby groups have told People Daily the enactment of; for instance, the proposed Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production and the Local Content Bills would promote gender diversity in a male dominated sector.
“For a nascent sector like Kenya’s, we need legislations so that we are aware of what activities the government and exploration companies are involved in upon public request as well as publish the same on their websites. The legislations are also important to ensure that locals get the best out of minerals extracted from their areas,” Alaka Lugonzo, the national coordinator at the Association of Women in Energy and Extractives in Kenya (AWEIK) said.
She said mining, oil and gas policies; legal and institutional frameworks targeting the sector must be reviewed, as they were enacted or set up long before the discovery of the energy minerals.
Lugonzo noted that while some pieces of legislation — such as the 2010 Constitution and the obsolete Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act — are in place, they do not address today’s oil industry dynamics.
“What are you people doing about the legislations which were enacted long time ago?” she posed. She observed that review and enactment of the legislations would enable women access equal opportunities in the young sector in the country.
Speaking at a one-day seminar; 2018 Gender in Oil and Gas on ‘Promoting Gender Diversity in the Oil and Gas Sector‘, Senior Assistant Chief, Josephine Akiru Ekal of Lokichar Sub-Location in Turkana South lamented that the recent flagging off of crude oil by President Uhuru Kenyatta was not acceptable to the locals.
Ekal said that community members were not fully engagement as requires the Constitution on public participation.
“How can our oil be taken out yet the 5 per cent as stipulated in the Constitution was abused?” Ekal posed.
She called on women leaders in the extractive industry to help communities where natural resources such as oil, know their rights.
Recent protests by the Turkana community in Lokichar indicate that potentially serious tensions between interested parties lie ahead.
Ekal lamented that even after working hand in hand with the companies and government to facilitate easy drilling of wells, she has never been recognised. “My people are asking for among others, bursaries, attention to their health challenges, education needs and emergency food aid,” she added.
The women led by Extractives Baraza director, Dr. Melba Wasunna, AWEIK Patron, Betty Gikonyo were discussing among other issues, how the number of qualified women in the industry can be increased at the entry level and the improvement of the poor image of the industry as a career choice for young women.
Next week the Extractives Policy Working Group (EPWG) through the Extractives Baraza based at Strathmore University would be hosting a two-day forum to bring to the limelight the situation on theEnvironment, Health and Safety (EHS) that is usually forgotten as focus remain around diversification of investments and local content issues.
The forum is themed: Establishing a Holistic Environment Health and Safety (EHS) Strategy for Kenya’s Petroleum Value Chain, to simplify EHS within the Kenyan extractives industry.
“The EPWG will seek to define the concept of environment health and safety (EHS) and contextualize it within the Kenyan extractives industry, and incentivize dialogue around various policy and legislation, based on best practices drawn from around the globe,” Extractives Baraza says in a statement a head of the forum.
Envirofly Consulting Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Akanimo Odon, an international development expert on environment, health and safety in the energy and petroleum sector is expected to lead the discussions focused on the country’s petroleum sector.
Experts in the extractive industry in Kenya feel that as Kenya diversifies its investments into the sector to drive economic growth, attention to the environment, health and safety is no longer just about meeting the social responsibility; It is also a question of legal mandate and good business practice.
“In comparison to revenue sharing and local content, there has been minimal focus regarding the Environment, Health and Safety aspects in the extractives sector,” Lugonzo said.