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The mining industry, well known for its history of male domination, has now been faced with a major transition that offers women a head start. Of late women are making strides in this sector trying by any means possible to rub off the notion that mining is a “men’s club”, and Linda Mabhena-Olagunju is one of them. Mabhena is the founder and CEO of South Africa’s largest wind farm (DLO Energy Resources Group Pvt Ltd), one of the first black women globally to own renewable energy power plants.
In the energy sector, Linda is an experienced executive, and she currently sits on the advisory boards of the University of Oxford as well as Concordia, a USA based NGO. She is one of the most influential women in Africa and has been featured in Oprah Winfrey’s Power List as well as on the cover of Forbes Africa. In 2015, she was selected by ESI as one of the 50 Most Influential People in African Power. Her work has been recognized in business and she is the recipient of the 2017 Veuve Clicquot Businesswomen Award as well the prestigious CNBC all Africa Business Leaders Awards. She is a pioneer in a field and an advocate for women and currently serves on the Gender Advisory counsel of the Minister of Mineral Resources & Energy for the Republic of South Africa.
Women have a vital role to play in the mining industry, and their participation is essential for its success. Recently, the fully black female-owned renewable energy company, DLO Energy Resources Group acquired a 30% equity stake in the broad-based black economic empowerment special purpose vehicle of the Longyuan Mulilo wind projects in the Northern Cape. This development positions the group as the largest black female-owned shareholder in one of South Africa’s largest operational wind farms, setting its commitment to renewable energy and empowering women in leadership roles.
Headquartered in Johannesburg, DLO Energy Resources Group operates as an independent power producer, driving the transition to clean and sustainable energy solutions in South Africa and other parts of the African continent. The Longyuan Mulilo wind projects, a collaboration between DLO Energy Resources Group, China Longyuan Power Group, a consortium of South African entities, and a local community trust, boast a combined capacity of 244 MW. These wind farms, comprising 163 turbines which are said to have been feeding clean electricity into the national grid since 2017, contributing to South Africa’s energy needs and mitigating the impact of loadshedding. In this era where the world is on the move to combat climate change being caused by carbon emissions, the wind farms have reduced carbon emissions by an estimated 619 900 t/y of carbon dioxide, fostering South Africa’s commitment to combat climate change.
For the moment, DLO Energy Resources Group CEO Linda Mabhena-Olagunju is leading the company’s DLO African Women in Leadership Summit which is set to take place on the 15th in Sandton next month, a summit which aims to empower women and facilitate their entry into the energy sector by exploring opportunities within the energy value chain. The DLO African Women in Leadership Summit brings together board members, CEOs, political leadership and key decision makers with the objective of increasing female representation on boards and key executive positions. The differentiating factor about this gathering is that it will include men who remain key decision makers within most organisations in addition to this policy makers will be included in the discussion with the objective of driving towards meaningful solutions to the challenges around representation.
Conclusively, the mining industry plays a crucial role in the global energy transition and ensuring that it remains profitable while being environmentally and socially responsible is vital. Women are essential to the industry and its ability to deliver a sustainable and just transition. The progress made so far is an incredible achievement, but it should also serve as a benchmark for further improvement. The mining industry must continue to prioritize gender diversity and create opportunities for women to participate and contribute fully to the sector. Various studies so far have pinpointed that companies with female CEOs are typically more profitable than those with a male CEO. 87% of the top 500 companies in the United States last year led by female decision-makers reported above-average profits, compared to just 78% of companies without a female CEO yet women continue to be under-represented in these key positions.