Women champions in the energy sector: A look at Mami Dufie Ofori

Women champions in the energy sector: A look at Mami Dufie Ofori
  • This portrait is part of the West Africa Energy Program and Women in Energy (WIE) Ghana’s series on female champions in the energy sector, featuring women who have over-come barriers, defied stereotypes, and succeeded in their chosen professions

 “(Women) do not need to be an engineer to excel in the energy sector. There is so much in energy development that does not require engineering or scientific credentials.”

Mami Dufie Ofori is a recognized champion of women at the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission of Ghana (PURC) where she has worked for most of her career. Through her guidance and encouragement, many women have ascended to higher roles in utility regulation and through her leader-ship, PURC established a gender desk to promote the interests of women employees.

How did the journey of this woman’s advocate evolve?

Mami was born in Accra, Ghana to parents who valued and invested in their children’s education, and who inculcated in their children the importance of giving back to society. She pursued a bachelor’s degree in Development Planning at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Accra because of an early passion for development. “(My) aim (has always been) to contribute to the development of my beloved country, Ghana. When we all work together, we make a difference, and this gives hope. Investing in human beings is paramount. This is what moves a nation forward.”

After getting her degree in 1987, Mami joined the Environmental Protection Council in Ghana as part of her National Service, where she immediately developed a deep interest in the energy sector. One of her first projects focused on raising the awareness of women in energy and utilities on the topics of sustainability and efficiency.

She learned concepts such as tree planting for energy use and good practices in water management. “This sparked an interest in me (to educate) women on energy and its use,” re-counts Mami.

After completing her National Service, Mami joined the Ministry of Finance as a Development Officer, with a focus on the Water, Works and Housing and the Employment and Social Welfare Ministries. One of the highlights of her time at the Ministry was her appointment as its representative to the World Bank-sponsored Advisory Committee on the Restructuring of the Water Sector through Private Sector Participation. “I was the only woman to join (this Committee).

I also was the Chairman of the Labour Rationalization Subcommittee of this Reform Committee,” Mami proudly recalls. This sub-committee was responsible for labor issues in the private sector participation process. It gave her insight into the interests of various staff groups based on age, qualifications, and career level and how these could be effectively addressed.

Five years later, in 2001, Mami joined the Public Utilities Regulatory Com-mission of Ghana (PURC) as the Director of Consumer Service. She hit the ground running and aimed to get public confidence in the regulator.

At that time, PURC had only been in existence for four years as part of the government’s utility sector reform process and had one regional office. Under her leadership, PURC expanded to four regions. With the goal of promoting ex-cellence, she also led the establishment of Consumer Services Committees in various districts within the country.

To further hone her own knowledge and skills and become a better manager, Mami decided to pursue an MBA at the University of Ghana.

In 2015, PURC seconded Mami to the Ministry of Power as the Director of Local Content Unit where she helped develop the National Local Content legislation in the electricity supply industry. She spearheaded stakeholder consultations and was a member of the revenue analysis and monitoring team of the Ministry.

Two years later, she assumed the role of Executive Secretary of PURC, a position she holds till today, and where she is responsible for the overall financial, administrative and operational management of the Commission.

She also leads the development of policies and programs in line with the mandate of the Commission to build a credible and sustainable utility regula-tory regime that protects the interests of consumers and utility service pro-vides and promotes fair competition among public utilities.

She played a key role in developing PURC consumer service regulations and rate setting guide-lines for electricity distribution network asset owners. “What I find fulfilling in my job is using regulation to enhance developmental growth,” she notes.

In 2019, the African Forum of Utility Regulators appointed Mami as the Chair of the Energy Committee, where she advocates for utilities and energy regulations to be an integral part of the development of the African continent. In recognition of her leadership in the sector, the Ghana Energy Awards recognized her as the Female Energy Personality of the Year in 2020. Mami still recalls the award vividly. “This was one of the proudest moments of my life. It was a moment where I felt truly recognized and that I had managed to make a difference in the energy sector.”

The same body, which is endorsed by the World Energy Council, awarded Mami the Digital Leadership Impact Award in 2021for her role in digitizing her institution. She was instrumental in the Commission’s acquisition of cut-ting-edge technology such as the PURC Human Resource Management In-formation System and the PURC Data Base Management System, and she is now pushing for staff to effectively use social media in their work.

Mami’s advice to women who want to pursue the same path she has been on? “(Women) do not need to be an engineer to excel in the energy sector. There is so much in energy development that does not require engineering or scientific credentials.”

She adds, “The energy sector cuts across several disciplines and encompasses a multitude of roles – in addition to technical and engineering ones – such as legal, human resources, customer education, funds mobilization, finance, and project management. These offer a wide range of options for women to get involved.”

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