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Kenyan woman who is ‘disrupting energy sector’ makes Forbes Africa top 30 Under 30 list

Kenya’s Ogutu Okudo, 28, has been named under Forbes’ Africa’s 30 Under 30 2020 list.

Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 is one of the most anticipated lists of Africa’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 spanning categories including business, technology, creatives and sport.

In a list released by Forbes Africa last week, the 28-year-old founder and CEO of Women in Energy and Extractives Africa was listed in the Oil and Energy industry category.

In 2012, Okudo found herself at a conference on the outskirts of Nairobi discussing environmental sustainability and the strategic role women play.

At the same time, in the Niger delta in Nigeria, communities were protesting the negligence of operations by oil companies resulting in oil spills.

“I vividly remember noticing the men dominating speaking, but it was the woman performing the balancing act of her child on her right hip and yams to feed a family on her head that was the inspiration behind Women in Energy and Extractives Africa that initially began as Women in Oil and Gas East Africa,” she told Forbes.

Okudo’s role then, was to speak for women in the energy and extractive sector by informing industry participants and decision-makers of the challenges and opportunities women are finding in pursuing careers in these sectors.

At this time, oil had not been discovered in Kenya. But Okudo was on a mission, not knowing that fate would knock on Kenya’s doors months later.

In 2012 oil reserves were discovered in Kenya’s dry and remote area of Turkana county and became a source of new wealth and a source of conflict for the pastoral Turkana people.

Today, Okudo’s company is a social enterprise bridging the gender gap in oil, gas, mining and alternative energy sectors in Africa. The organization has 15 employees in five countries and over 75 volunteers in 10 countries.

GENDER GAP

“I am passionate about the opportunity to play a role in factoring a development driven by strategic partnerships,” she says.

Today, WEX Africa is recognised as a social enterprise bridging the gender gap in the oil, gas, mining and alternative energy sectors in Africa. Okudo has been recognised internationally and has received many awards.

In 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta recognised her as one of the young female Kenyan trailblazers, being awarded the Under 30 Women in Energy East Africa (2018) and, the Kenya Upstream Oil and Gas Woman of the Year in 2019.

Last year Okudo accompanied President Kenyatta as part of the Kenyan delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, where she addressed the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. She plans to set base across East Africa by the end of the year.

CNN Africa Voices referred to Okudo as ‘The woman on a mission to disrupt the energy sector.’

Each year Forbes Africa headhunts for resilient self-starters, innovators, entrepreneurs and disruptors under the age of 30 in the categories of business, technology, creatives and sport.

The nominees compete fiercely competition and are subjected to a rigorous vetting process to make it to the list of 30 finalists.