Driving Socio -Economic Development In Power And Water Engineering – IWD 2015, Seminar Speech,FUTO

APWEN in Society: Driving Socio-Economic Development in Power and Water Engineering

An Address by

Engr. (Mrs.) Nnoli Akpedeye FNSE, FNICE, PMP, FMP

President, The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN)

Delivered at the International Women’s Day Event

at Federal University of Technology Owerri, on 29th April 2015



Sustainable socio-economic development all over the world is hinged particularly on power and hydro (water) infrastructural investments. Un-interrupted power supply, safe drinking water and basic educational facilities strongly influence the quality of life of the populace and contribute greatly to the economic development of any nation. Women are at the heart of development as they control most of the non monetary economy (subsistence, agriculture, bearing children, domestic labour etc.) and play an important role in the monetary economy (trading, wage .labour, employment). In Nigeria today, citizenry yearn for more power and water supply in order to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the nation. Greater access of the poor to education and health services, water and sanitation, road network and electricity will in-turn place Nigeria at the foremost position economically. This paper therefore, highlights the roles and importance of women in the power and water supply sector.



1.0        Introduction

I am most delighted to address this august audience today. The month of March is the United Nation’s designated International Month of Women and it is an honour to be in the midst of such distinguished professional women and gentlemen of high repute.


Since 1975, the United Nations (UN) has celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8th March and in his address to commemorate IWD 2015, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stated that:


‘When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.’


There is no greater maxim than the foregoing, especially for our country Nigeria and The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) is indeed very excited to celebrate this auspicious event with Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) – the ‘Technology for Service’ centre of academic excellence.



2.0       The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) in Society

APWEN is a non-governmental educational service organisation and a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.

Founded in 1982, APWEN’s Vision is:

To be the catalyst for advancement of women in the engineering profession towards national and global technological development;

And our Mission is:

  • To continuously increase awareness that engineering is also a career for girls, thereby improving the strength of female engineers;
  • To encourage women to achieve professional excellence as engineers and leaders; and
  • To promote the engineering profession as a positive force in enhancing the quality of life.


APWEN continues to be the vanguard for women in engineering as we deliver programmes that propagate our motto: – ENCOURAGE, ENHANCE, EXCEL by:

  • encouraging women engineers to grow our professional careers and attain our potentials in engineering; and encouraging the girl-child in the study of sciences ultimately leading to choice of engineering as a profession
  • enhancing the competence of women engineers through professional development, mentorship and networking
  • providing a platform for female engineering students and women engineers to excel


To this end, APWEN’s annual activity schedule comprises:

  • Girl-child programmes aimed at generating interest in and passion for sciences in young females with the ultimate goal of encouraging more girls to study and subsequently practice engineering. Programmes in this category include Introduce a Girl to Engineering, Career Talks, Science Competitions and Invent It-Build It
  • Coaching and mentoring female engineering students, as well as creating the link between them and potential employers
  • Professional development of practising women engineers through Seminars, Workshops, Technical Courses/Learning Interventions and Conferences
  • Networking at Industrial visits, Courtesy visits, and partnerships with international organisation such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in the United States of America and the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists


This year, the United Nation’s theme for International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing (twenty years after) campaign:

“Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”

Whilst we are all urged to join governments and activists across the world in commemorating the ground-breaking Beijing Conference of 1995, we must celebrate the many achievements that have come since then and galvanize programmes to address the gaps that still remain in making gender equality a reality.


APWEN’s 2015 focus is on Power and Water Engineering, hence the title of this paper:

“APWEN in Society – Driving Socio-Economic Development in Power and Water Engineering”.



3.0       Water Resources

Access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation is essential to human health and survival. But for many people living in high density, low-income areas, these vital services remain out of reach. The UN inter-agency mechanism for freshwater and sanitation issues, UN-Water, in her Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS 2014) report, estimates that:

  • 748 million women, men and children lack access to an improved source of drinking-water; and
  • Women, men and children lack access to an improved source of drinking water.

The GLAAS report also states that between 2013 and 2014, from a quoted Nigerian population of about 170million; 81,000 people died of diarrhoea due to inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH); compared to Ghana with a population of approximately 25million having 5,000 deaths attributable to poor WaSH.


It is pertinent to note that solving the sanitation challenge in sub-Saharan Africa in general and in Nigeria in particular is best driven by female engineers, scientists and technologists as we are generally more empathetic towards the significant maternal and child health implications. Long-term solutions will most likely require new ways of thinking to create radical innovations that are affordable, sustainable and deployable on a large scale. Innovation is especially needed in densely populated areas, where billions of people are only capturing and storing their waste, with no sustainable way to handle it once their in-situ storage—such as a septic tank or latrine pit—fills up.


Furthermore, it is widely acknowledged that reliable water supply, sanitation and water resources management will boost a Nation’s economic growth and contribute greatly to poverty eradication. In fact studies show that the economic benefits of improved water supply range from USD 3 to USD 34 per USD 1 invested (depending on the region and technologies applied). The gains would be mainly in the health, agricultural and industrial sectors. Therefore, investing in Water is Good Business!



4.0       The Power Sector

Similarly, economic activities are majorly underpinned by power supply so the socio-economic advantages of dependable, renewable power supply cannot be over-emphasized. Adequate power supply has a crucial role to play in the socio-economic development of Nigeria by providing safe, reliable, sufficient and affordable electricity for domestic consumption and industrial use. The power sector of the economy is an industry for earning revenue from export of electricity thereby providing the much needed capital to finance social projects and achieve economic self reliance.

Nigeria’s Power Sector is made up of 3 major sub- sectors namely: generation, transmission and distribution. With the privatisation of the power sector consequent upon the commencement of the power sector reform in Nigeria in 2001, opportunities for improvement in efficiency/service delivery were released.

So how have we fared so far?

According to The Year In Review report of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Power, as of December 2013, the total installed or nameplate capacity (maximum capacity) of the power plants was 6,953 MW; available capacity was 4,598 MW; and actual average generation was 3,800 MW. However, the 2014 report affirms that as by December 2014, the total installed capacity of the power plants was 7,445MW, available capacity was 4,949 MW, and actual average generation was less than 3,900 MW. With an estimated peak demand forecast is 12,800 MW as at April 2015, it is obvious that although we have made progress there is substantial work to be done to fulfil the power needs of our Nation.

The world is watching and Nigeria has become the destination of choice for Power Sector investments and financing. Herein lies the opportunity for participation of female engineers, scientists and technologists. CY’s Women in Power and Utilities Index which analyses gender diversity in the boardrooms of the world’s largest 200 utility companies, shows a very slight increase in the number of women at the top in executive board positions (5%, up from 4% last year) but a lower percentage of total board members overall (14%, down from 15% last year). We must take conscious steps to accelerate participation of women in Power and Utilities for this sector to realize the significant financial benefits that diversity brings.



5.0       Women in Action

Women in Engineering abound in our society and are making their mark in academia, public and private sectors.   However, with the percentage of practising women engineers hovering around 11 to 15 percentage globally, there is much room for improvement.


In line with our focus on Water and Power Engineering in 2015, it is very exciting that APWEN Chapters across the country have initiated specific renewable energy and small-scale water supply projects, which are being progressed from design to execution. These projects that aim to address grass-root challenges in small communities will definitely lead to massive changes for a significant population of Nigerians, when aggregated. Some of the programmes have funding constraints and I therefore encourage all nation builders and forward-thinking individuals, organisations, institutions, government ministries, departments and agencies to join forces with us to build a brighter tomorrow for future generations.



6.0       Conclusion

As we celebrate 2015 International Women’s Day in the capital city of ‘The Eastern Heartland’, FUTO is highly commended for organising this epoch-making collaboration of women from diverse spheres of life and women engineers, scientists and technologists are fervently urged to step up; partner with other like-minded women professionals; take up the challenge to unleash our latent talents; and accelerate actions to deliver positive, sustainable advances in Water and Power sectors for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.


I wish all of us a fruitful and enriching experience today, and once again appeal to like-minded individuals, public and private institutions, organisations and the academia to partner with Women so that together we will make the difference in Power and Water Engineering for the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria.




  1. UN-Water (2014) GLAAS 2014 Report, Investing in Water and Sanitation: Increasing Access, Reducing Inequalities [Online]. Available from – http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/139735/1/9789241508087_eng.pdf. [Accessed: 22nd April 2015]
  2. CY (2015) Talent at the table: Women in Power and Utilities Index [Online]. Available from – http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Industries/Power—Utilities/Women-power-and-utilities. [Accessed: 22nd April 2015]



  1. Project Management Institute (2015) Project Management Journal, Special Issue: The Migration of Research Methodologies. [Online] April/May 2015. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pmj.2015.46.issue-2/issuetoc. [Accessed: 23rd April 2015]
  2. KPMG (2013) A Guide to the Nigerian Power Sector. [Online] December 2013. Available from: http://www.kpmg.com/ng/en/issuesandinsights/articlespublications/pages/aguidetothenigerianpowersector.aspx. [Accessed: 23rd April 2015]