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Engineer Azeb Asnake; Helmet? Yes! Coveralls? Yes! In Charge? Yes!

Azeb asnake

Women who succeed in a male-dominated industry must be a rare species, wouldn’t you agree? Roughing it out with the toughest and excelling every bit of the way! That’s an African woman in full bloom! Who says women are afraid to get their hands covered in grime, or put a helmet on their weaves and a coverall on their hour-glass figures?

Ethiopian Azeb Asnake [interesting name] is a Civil Engineer who trained at the Addis Ababa University and earned her M.Sc. in Water Resource Management from the Tampere University of Technology, Finland. Her specialty is Water Resources, Hydro Power Management and Dams.

Her training and skill-set was put to use in her native country when she gained employment as a Junior Expert in Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority, and worked her way up to the Directorate of Engineering.

Generating constant and sufficient power is an African dilemma, and in this case, Ethiopia got its best hands working on power projects that would pave the way for constant power supply. Enter the beautiful Engineer with expertise to boot!


Engineer Azeb was named Project Manager of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation’s Gibe III Hydro Power Project, the first woman to lead a project in that capacity! The project which is near completion has installed a generation capacity of 1,870 MW according to

The wife of Dr. Tibebe Tafesse, a Mining Economist and mother of Hindeke Tibebe and Michael Tibebe, Azeb was unfazed by the enormous responsibilities and expectations of her appointment; she had a job to do; one might opine that she had two pints to prove!

A point person for the United Nations Habitat Water for Africa Cities Program, Azeb is a proficient Manager whose worth was well recognised by the powers that be. In 2013, Azeb was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the newly-formed Ethiopian Electric Power, one of the few state owned corporations, which was considered quite a feat. According to Debretsion Gebremichael  (Ph.D.), the Board Chairman of the Ethiopian Electric Power and Minister of Communication and Information Technology, “Engineer Azeb proved her capabilities by leading a complicated and challenging project.”

The labours of the 48 year-old have not gone unnoticed or unrewarded. In June 2014, at the African Construction Exhibition at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, she received the award for ‘Women in Construction Excellence’ under the Africa Project Leader category.


The Women in Construction Excellence is an annual ceremony organized with the aim of celebrating the contribution of female professionals in Africa’s built environment. The award was organized by the African Construction Expo in collaboration with the South African Ministry of Public Works.

In the words of the organisers, “With rising education levels and general empowerment, women play an increasingly important role in economic development across the continent. Even though this is an overall positive development, typically male dominated sectors such as the construction industry still have a long way to go when it comes to establishing diversity.”

Do you agree? Do women still have to prove that they have earned the right soar in building Africa’s infrastructure?

We can’t wait to see Engineer Azeb transform Ethiopia’s power sector; do you know other women who are succeeding in a male-dominated environment? Please share in the comments section below.

Women, on your marks, get set, GO!

Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya
Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya
5 Things You Didn't Know About Jennifer in 2015: 1. Her newest collection of short stories, 'The Curious Case of the Small Pikin & Other Stories' is available on 2. She ported from Blogger to WordPress and shares her uncensored thoughts on 3. She is an aspiring Filmmaker & Talk-show Host[ess] 4. She's a mother of two, wife of one and daughter of God. 5. She plans to travel around the world in less than 80 days... Now you Know! Find me on Twitter: @jennynkem

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