|Whatever event is hosted at the lauded Hilton Hotel, Durban, South Africa, is characterised by its pomp, publicity and sought-after tourist revenue. From the widespread and sometimes controversial publicity that has courted the International Aids Conference to the successful NAM Summit, the local journalistic dictum is that if it's held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) or the Hilton Hotel then it must be afforded suitable recognition and its goings-on must be conveyed to the public, who invariably feels the outcomes of such conferences. What makes the Women in Energy Conference conspicuous is the gaping, blackhole-like lack of exposure and grassroots dissemination of information to people, more especially African people.
A poignant comment made by a colleague attending the conference highlighted the point that maybe grassroots information is such an unheard of concept here because of the ignorance on the part of the world leaders and the hierarchy in their respective energy departments. The comment was about the unwavering optimism displayed in almost all energy ratios where the energy reserves were pitted to ascend positively the world over. In actuality this is the proverbial Trojan horse of world-energy information as a more realistic graph would display gross fluctuations and an almost certain energy drought in the not-so-distant future.
However there is hope for South Africa yet. That first landmark step in eradicating ignorance and making a positive contribution to uplifting world energy reserves was taken by developing-Africa's South African Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and her contemporaries in other countries. This positive development was highlighted by Calvin Humphrey, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, in a dinner-time address to delegates at the conference. He commended South Africa on being among only three countries in the world to have a woman at the forefront of their foreign affairs departments.
In a lighthearted moment, Humphrey paid tribute to the gutsy determination of the African women leaders in their attempts to bring the conference to South Africa. In a contest to convince him that South Africa deserved to host the conference, it was obvious who held the royal flush. All Humphrey would disclose was the real-life experience that he gained from his encounter with the formidable ladies. That was, "Son, never argue with a woman!"