UN Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Nigeria’s Damilola Ogunbiyi as his Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and Co-Chairperson of United Nations-Energy Sahara Reporters.
A spokesperson for the UN Mr Farhan Haq made the announcement during the organisation’s daily news briefing in New York on Tuesday.
Haq also announced the appointment of Ogunbiyi as the Chief Executive Officer of SEforALL by the agency’s Administrative Board, a choice he said the UN Chief welcomed.
She will take up the post in early 2020, and from 26-28 May 2020, she will welcome stakeholders from across the SDG7 movement at the SEforALL Forum in Kigali, Rwanda.
The University of Brighton educated Ogunbiyi is the first female Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). At Brighton, Ogunbiyi obtained a Bachelor’s degree in project management with construction in 2001 and went on for a Masters degree also in project management in 2002. In an interview, she said she started her career at age 21, meaning she must be in her late 30s or early 40s.
She brings to the new posts “extensive leadership experience and a track record of supporting energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa”.
A statement on the UN website said she was responsible for implementing the Nigerian Off-Grid Electrification Programme.
Ogunbiyi also “successfully negotiated the Nigerian Electrification Project, to rapidly construct solar mini-grids and deploy solar home systems across Nigeria,” according to the UN.
“She also developed the Energizing Economics Initiative and Energizing Education Programme, which provides sustainable and affordable off-grid power solutions.
“Before joining the Federal Government of Nigeria, Ogunbiyi was the first woman to be appointed as the General Manager of the Lagos State Electricity Board.
“The Board is responsible for public lighting, independent power projects, and energy development serving millions of people across the state.
“Prior to this, she consulted for the UK Department for International Development on public-private partnerships,” the UN added.
The UN also described the appointee as a globally respected leader with a broad and diverse international network in the area of energy development.
It added that Ogunbiyi built key relationships with leading multilateral and bilateral partners and the private sector.
She is also one of the commissioners for the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty.
The appointment comes as the world is about to enter the final decade pursuing the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).
It centres on access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
Ogunbiyi will take over from Rachel Kyte of the UK as Special Representative, Co-Chair of United Nations-Energy, and CEO of SEforALL.
Haq said the UN Chief expressed his gratitude to Kyte for her “dedication and commitment to the United Nations.”
Guterres also praised her achievements in “accelerating universal energy access and her leadership in advancing sustainable energy transition in the context of the Paris Agreement”.
SEforALL is an international organisation headquartered in Vienna, Austria. It is dedicated to helping the world achieve SDG7 and Paris Agreement targets.
It has continued to maintain close ties to the UN through an existing relationship agreement, partnership with its agencies, and Ogunbiyi’s roles as Special Representative for SEforALL and Co-Chairperson of UN-Energy.