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Girl power at top Nigerian energy firms

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 02:05

A few years ago, Nigeria's oil and gas business barely had any women in leadership positions. But as Sonia Legg reports that's gradually changing as women entrepreneurs take their place in the boardroom as Nigeria's oil industry opens up to local players.

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For decades Nigeria's oil and gas industry was largely run by foreigners - and male ones at that. But four years ago a new law was passed to help locals get the top jobs. It's been working - and there's been another benefit - women are at last making some headway in the business. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMY JADESIMI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LAGOS DEEP OFFSHORE LOGISTICS (LADOL), SAYING: "I think that you have to get people comfortable very quickly. As a male, particularly if you are a white male who is in their 50s, you walk into the room, people automatically give you a certain level of respect and deference. When you are a woman, you have to earn that." Amy Jadesimi has a medical degree from Oxford and an MBA from Standford. She now runs Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics, a company which supports drilling operations. She says it can be difficult for a woman in her position. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMY JADESIMI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LAGOS DEEP OFFSHORE LOGISTICS (LADOL), SAYING: "It could be that because of my sex or because of my race which you know that happens too, the person I am meeting with is simply not open to accepting the information that I am conveying, in which case I have to convey that information in a different way, sometime through a different person." Nigeria is Africa's largest economy and the world's 14th largest oil producer. But 100 million people live on less than a $1 a day and women carry much of the burden of poverty. Uju Ifejika is another inspiration to them - she's chairman and CEO of oil firm Brittania-U (SOUNDBITE) (English) UJU IFEJIKA, CHAIRMAN/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BRITTANIA-U, SAYING: "The normal thing, the African man mentality that a woman's place is in the kitchen, okay... rear children, look after the first baby which is your husband, look after your children and then never ask questions. It's changing now. People are beginning to ask questions." Some are beginning to speak out too. These women recently protested about the lack of jobs for them in the rich Niger Delta region. There's still along way to go - but Nigeria is setting an example from the top down - its oil minister is also a woman.

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Girl power at top Nigerian energy firms

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 02:05