COVID-19 Impact & Strategies


Skills Development


Women in Mining in Africa

Voices of African Women in Mining on COVID-19

Webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on African women in artisanal and large scale mining, business and government and a discussion on strategies for a way forward. Thursday June 4th, 2020 3pm London time – English. Friday June 5th, 2020 3pm London time – French.


Key Activities

  • Panel discussions, Q&A sessions
  • Online (YouTube)
Moderated by Prof Nellie Mutemeri with panellists Amina Tahiru, CEO AC Zenon, Ghana; Zenzi Awases, President Women in Mining Namibia; Stella Opakas, Director Mineral Resources, Turkana County, Kenya; Pastor Pauline Mundia, Secretary General, Association of Zambian Women in Mining; Linid Nakedi, MD, Gubhani Exploration, South Africa. Remarks from President of AWIMA, Georgette Barnes.


2 Videos

Professor Nellie Mutemeri


Lindi Nakedi


Amina Tahiru


Pastor Pauline Mundia


Zenzi Awases


Stella Opakas


  • To advocate for and support women’s interests in the exploration and extraction of mineral wealth: The webinar provides a platform for discussing the challenges and opportunities for women in mining.
  • To develop capacity building tools and programmes that attract, retain, and promote the advancement of women in the extractive industries: The webinar offers valuable insights and knowledge-sharing opportunities.
  • To collaborate with sub-regional and national women in mining associations to share knowledge and best practices: The webinar encourages collaboration and exchange of best practices.

outcomes & impact

Key Takeaways

137 viewers gained insights and strategies from industry leaders, enhancing their skills to navigate COVID-19 challenges in the mining sector.

Webinar Questions & Answers

During the webinar, participants engaged in a dynamic Q&A session with industry leaders. Below is a detailed account of the questions raised and the insightful responses provided, offering valuable strategies and perspectives for navigating the challenges faced in the mining sector.

Zenzi Awases “We do not have statistics yet. We need to do a continental survey. But the impacts include job losses, loss of contracts, reduced hours, double work i.e carers and working from home, as kids are being home schooled.”

  • Zenzi Awases: “Personally, thriving at work in LSM would be when I get recognition for my contribution – and I don’t mean a “well done” only – trust me enough to promote me and not only to be a 2iC (second in charge).”
  • Georgette Barnes: “When there is no more need for WIM Groups and Advocacy”
  • Nellie Mutemeri: “Gender equality, equity and justice. Women should be well represented in all aspects and at all levels of the mining value chain, as professionals, entrepreneurs and equity participation in mining ventures at all scales. This will require good gender equality policies and women’s empowerment initiatives, mainstreamed into government programs (which a provide a framework for all other actors and stakeholders). Women should be supported to acquire all the means to meaningfully participate (i.e. skills, capital etc). Equal opportunities to supply and get assistance with financing for major projects. “
  • Pauline Mundia: “In the gemstone SSM sector Zambia. Marketing and Trade amidst covid-19 pandemic for sustainable development growth.
    • Rebrand the marketing tools such as establishing a user friendly website for interaction with potential buyers and sellers or producers.
    • Introduce an Open Tele-Marketing and Trading Hub for minerals from Africa.
    • Engage the relevant trade support institutions to facilitate smooth movement of our products.
    • Leverage marketing and trade finance in order to reduce transaction costs in export movements.”
  • Georgette Barnes: “More linkages between African countries to encourage trade and movement(continental tourism, & Implementation of ACFTA”

Amina Tahiru: “I can collaborate with other women in gemstone mining from different countries so that we can add value to our products.”

Pauline Mundia: “A lot of tourists come to Zambia to view the famous Victoria Falls or Musi-o-tunya as locally known, meaning the smoke that thunders. We have also a number of game parks. There are no specific formal markets for gems but have a general market place for curios and rough gems in Livingstone which is open to tourists everyday. There are also shops in the tourist capital in Livingstone which specifically sell Zambian gemstones mounted on both silver and gold.

Zenzi Awases: “The month of May was celebrated as Mental Health month globally. My personal experience has been that most mining companies, at least in Namibia, made a concerted effort to drive the message of emotional well-being home. Some even adopted their efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Stella Opakas: “We can work through women groups at various levels by informing them of the areas where women are vulnerable as some of these vulnerabilities with time tend to become the norm and acceptable. Second we need to inform them where they can go for help as the helplines and support centres are in place but are underused.”

Zenzi Awases: “Great question! We always hear the phrases “you are not ready” or “we are concerned about your flexibility” when we dare to take on the conversation of leadership. That said, if there is one thing the lockdown period has shown us all is that, women are flexible – we make things happen. I have always maintained that leadership should not be defined by gender. It shouldn’t be – a good leader should have the right mix of technical and people skills as well as business acumen. I have found that while we naturally have people skills, as women we spent most of our careers trying prove our technical ability (even if you have graduated cum laude) – this combination will get us up to supervisory to middle management level. What we lack (in most cases) is business acumen. However, even that is changing if you consider the amount of female MBA students who hail from the mining industry, mostly self-funded – and that is how we are rising above it. Soon the industry will have no choice but to recognize that.”

  • Lindi Nakedi: “Technology in the exploration space has been around in terms of automation of rigs and rod handling technology which decreases the number of workers on any site and also increasing opportunities for women to become operators as well but this has an effect on job losses for support staff. Unless if we reskill and retrain the current staff to fill other roles that become necessary to support the site.”
  • Pauline Mundia: “As Association of Zambian Women in Mining we have created  a Food Initiative Drive to help our members cushion the cost of buying food for their workers as well as providing them with face masks. This initiative is in collaboration with our marketing colleagues in Kenya and the USA who have also made donations. Any member who sells gemstones through our online market has to surrender a 10% of the proceeds as a way of paying back to the community in the mining area. So the 10% pay back and the donations are used to fulfil the food initiative drive. So far we have had one successful food drive.
  • We are also engaging the ACP-EU UNDP low value minerals programme to help in mitigating the covid-19 pandemic in the small scale mining sector by providing grants so that funds can be used to sensitise mining communities on how to keep safe and healthy during this trying time. Also the grants can be used to help in buying face masks, hand sanitizer etc and some food because many people have been laid off and even those in employment their employers who are actually our members are struggling financially.”

Lindi Nakedi: “The acquiring of didgital skills will benefit us in innovating new ways of operating in our oragnisations as well as exposing us to the data sciences. Taking the time to relook at how we have done things before and coming up with new ways using emerging technologies. The biggest problem in mining has been a slow adoption approach to methods and systems that can simplify as well as make the industry more efficient without compromising on quality outputs. This reset time that covid 19 has brought about has almost levelled out the playing fields because if we all have the ability to work from home, it means that we are also now utilizing other competencies as people that don’t require the strength that the mining industry had first painted the industry to need (the reason why men were allowed and not women). So covid 19 is accelerating our progress towards the fourth industrial revolution.”

  • Georgette Barnes“Lack of extensive use of PPEs in the informal mining sector, no formal health insurance plans and crowded work spaces definitely will exacerbate health issues, trying to resolve these for COVID could help us adapt better.”
  • Stella Opakas“Yes there are. In the northern part of Kenya there is currently locust infestation and floods from the long rains. These have posed a serious threat to our food security. As a result, there are people who are taking advantage of the artisanal miners and buying from them at the buyers terms and conditions owing to the fact that the cost of food has gone up. The pandemic has created an environment of harmonised communication, where government communication is central from health bringing in other departments. I think this provides an opportunity of informing artisanal miners and people in that space, more so in the remote areas where the business opportunities available now are limited and the pace of things of things has slowed down. The pandemic has brought an opportunity to reset and upgrade those that were previously left behind.”

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Professor Nellie Mutemeri


Professor Nellie Mutemeri holds a PhD in Geology and is an Associate Professor with the University of Witwatersrand. She has worked extensively in the mining sector with experience in sustainability, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), social impacts, mining policy & governance, legislation and strategy, responsible supply chains and ethical audits. She currently sits on the Board of the Diamond Development Initiative, and is also a member of the UNESCO Council for International Geosciences Council Programme. Professor Mutemeri has worked and consulted for: AngloGold Ashanti, DFID, UNEP, Oxfam, Action Aid, USAID, World Bank, BGR, Cardno Emerging Markets, Conservation International and IBI International.

Georgette Sakyi Barnes Addo


Georgette is the Founder and Executive Director of Georgette Barnes Ltd., a Ghanaian drilling and mining supplies company based in Accra, Ghana. She was awarded 2018 Female Entrepreneur of the Year by Invest in Africa (IIA). She was selected as one of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining by Women in Mining – UK in (2016). She is President of Women in Mining (WIM) Ghana and Co-founder of Accra Mining Network. Georgette holds a BA in French and Linguistics, and a Graduate Diploma in Communications from the University of Ghana.

Lindiwe Nakedi


Lindiwe Nakedi has over 10 years’ experience in the surface core drilling industry and is the Owner and Managing Director of Gubhani Exploration, a 100% black female-owned drilling company. Gubhani specializes in surface exploration diamond drilling and geotechnical drilling across various commodities. They have worked with companies like MC Mining, Exxaro, Nkomati Mine of ARM, De Beers, and South32. Lindiwe served as Chairperson of Women in Mining SA (WiMSA) in 2017 and 2018, and is now Patron Liaison. In 2018, she was one of the Top 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining by Women In Mining UK. She was instrumental in increasing female representation at events like the Africa Mining Indaba 2019. Her passion is driving diversity and inclusion in the mining sector.

Amina Tahiru


Dr. Amina Tahiru was born in Accra on 6th August 1974. She attended Badariya Islamic school in Tamale and moved back to Accra in 1992. In 1999, she joined Transglobal International as a project coordinator in Ghana. In 2002, she started buying gold in Bolgatanga for a Dubai-based refinery, Kaloti. In 2003, she established the NGO ‘Women Can’ to assist and create awareness of the dangers women face in the small-scale mining industry. That same year, she registered MINATA Ventures and attended a feeder-road engineering program in Koforidua. In 2006, she acquired a mining lease from the Ghana Minerals Commission under Zenon Investment Limited. She is currently the CEO of Zenon Investment Limited, Ghana. She hopes her story will inspire young women to engage in the mining industry.

Pastor Pauline Mundia


Pastor Pauline Sialumba Mundia founded Chipazuba Company and has managed amethyst mining in Zambia full-time since 1990. She became the first woman board member of Kariba Minerals Limited in 1995, and treasurer of the Association of Zambian Women in Mining in 1997. She chaired Kalomo Miners Association in 2001 and joined the EU Mining Programme and World Bank’s gemstone project in 2002. She led the Federation of Small Scale Mining Associations of Zambia from 2008 to 2011. She is now a Board Member of the Zambia Extractive Council and Vice President of the Association of African Women in Mining.

Zenzi Awases


Zenzi is a geologist with 15 years’ experience. She started her career as a graduate geologist in 2005. Notable career highlights include exploring and mining fluvial, alluvial and deflation diamonds deposits. In 2012, she expanded her experience to include marine mining of a paleo-placer diamond deposit. She holds a B.Tech (Geology) from the Tshwane University of Technology, B.Sci (Honors) in Geology from the University of Stellenbosch and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration from the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

Stella Opakas


Stella is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, Moscow, Russia. She has worked for Kenol Kobil, National Oil Corporation of Kenya and Kenya Petroleum Refineries.