She has found a calling in a profession dominated by men. Yet, with a strong family support system, she has been able to find excellence in a discipline she has passion for. This is the story of Oluwatosin Likinyo, a Nigerian young woman who made a distinction in her Master’s Degree at the University of Aberdeen. Here are excerpts from her chat with Rasheed Adebiyi…
Tekedia: Could you tell me more about yourself?
Oluwatosin Likinyo: My name’s Oluwatosin Likinyo. I am an advocate for clean energy, energy equality and energy sufficiency, and strongly believe that sustainable energy solutions are incredible tools for economic development. My experience with the substandard energy sector in my community in Africa, sparked my strong interest in renewable energy. Now, I have a personal commitment towards improving the energy industry, specifically in Africa. I recently graduated with a distinction in my MSc Renewable Energy Engineering degree from the University of Aberdeen, and publish thought-provoking articles on renewable energy, sustainability, and development on my blog.
Tekedia: As a woman, what has it looked like pursuing a degree in a largely perceived male dominated profession in Engineering?
Oluwatosin Likinyo: Honestly, there is this notion in the engineering space that as a woman you have to prove that you can perform as good as your male colleagues. Although, this has kept me on my feet, I am grateful to be surrounded by men who have never made feel like being a woman limits my potential to succeed in any field. My parents, who are both engineers, are my biggest source of inspiration.
Gender should never be a limitation to fulfilling your dreams. What is most important is your perception of who you are and the level of faith you have in your goals. History defined engineering as a male-dominated profession but the narrative is changing. The world needs positive impact makers and you can be one – man or woman!
Tekedia: Attaining a distinction in your MSc Degree should mean a lot to you. What exactly does it mean for you?
Oluwatosin Likinyo : I am overwhelmed with joy! This has been a long dream of mine and I am very glad to have attained it. Beyond my personal joy is the joy of my parents and family. It is just a wonderful experience to make them proud. There were challenges along the way of course and a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. I am grateful to God for the grace to come out at the end of the tunnel stronger.
Tekedia: What were your experiences like studying in Aberdeen?
Oluwatosin Likinyo: Oh! Aberdeen is such a beautiful city and has to be my favourite city on earth right now haha! I totally enjoyed living and studying there. I loved going to the parks and sitting by the riverside to have my ‘me-moments’ whenever I was stressed. It really is a nice and peaceful city, and the people are friendly. Also, I loved the diversity of the city with people from different races. Of course, I got to meet a lot of my fellow Nigerians so it did not feel too different from home.
Tekedia: What are your views on how to develop the energy sector in Africa?
Oluwatosin Linkinyo: Africa is endowed with vast natural resources and is in the best position to adopt renewable energy (RE) technologies and to play a leading role in the global energy RE market. However, the heavy reliance on oil despite the increase in investments from international bodies and foreign countries shows that there is little progress in the renewable energy space in Africa. To illustrate this, the Federal Government of Nigeria has developed the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy that contains the government’s strategy for deploying RE. In addition, the government invested $20 billion in solar projects in 2017. With these, one would think considerable efforts are being made; yet, according to IEA Energy Outlook, electricity generation from fossil fuel is still on the increase with 80% of the power generated coming from gas and most of the remainder from oil. I consider corruption to be the biggest obstacle to RE development in Africa, specifically in relation to policy execution, project management and accountability. How are funds managed and the projects run? These are questions that have to be answered in total transparency before more money is to be pumped in with minimal results to show.
To start to tackle the corruption issue, processes and procedures have to be critically analysed. For example, proper disciplinary and reporting measures must be in place to ensure that energy policies are adequately implemented and public projects or funds are properly managed. More so, the progress of every project must be monitored regularly with public knowledge and necessary remedial actions taken in case of non-compliance.
Furthermore, it is important to bring new players into the game; specifically, young, passionate, and educated minds. This goes beyond financing start-ups to mentoring entrepreneurs on how to build successful RE businesses. A perfect example of this in action is the Tony Elumelu Foundation which is built on the African capitalism concept that emphasizes the role of the private sector in facilitating Africa’s development. We need more of this for the RE industry in Africa. It might sound like a daunting task but it would be worth it as the energy sector influences economic development to a great extent.
One very important benefit of empowering start-ups is competition. The more actors we have in the RE industry, the more competitive the market becomes, and competition drives innovation and helps reduce electricity costs. I shared more of my views here: https://www.tosinlikinyo.com/post/developing-renewable-energy-in-africa-a-practical-solution
Tekedia: Moving forward, what are your next steps?
Oluwatosin Linkiyo: This next phase for me is to learn and grow while working in the energy industry. No worries, I will keep you updated with what comes haha!
Tekedia: Thanks for your time
Oluwatosin Linkinyo : My pleasure.