Caroline Otonglo is an investment professional, project developer and legal advisor for responsAbility Renewable Energy Holding (rAREH), our Nairobi-based energy company that develops, owns and operates power plants across Sub-Saharan Africa. Covid-19 finds her at her Nairobi home focusing on getting lots of paperwork like contracts and other agreements ready before hitting the road for project development once again.
Working from your Nairobi home, what keeps you busy?
I am incredibly productive drafting and reviewing agreements from the peace and quiet of my home. As a considerable portion of my work includes legal reviews, I appreciate being able to spend time alone, fully focused, for this kind of work. I am trying to get all the reviews and drafting done in preparation for when traveling becomes possible once again.
How about the project development part of your job?
We have calls to interact with developers and other partners, which is fine to a certain degree but would probably not work in the long run. I find that, particularly in Africa and when interacting with government bodies, which is a key part of project development, you need to get in front of people in order to get things moving. With Covid-19, we are developing alternative approaches, for instance colleagues have creatively used video chats to preview quality of equipment that needs to be imported from China. As none of us can go there at this point, we are working with a trusted local partner who facilitates live video equipment review, pre-export, to provide comfort that the equipment meets our requirements and can be shipped on time.
“Covid-19 is establishing the home office as a true alternative, avoiding CO2 emissions in the process.”
Which tasks are first on your list for when the situation returns to normal?
We were about to kick off a capacity-building project with the government of Guinea-Conakry which has been put on hold because it requires a much more intense interaction than would be possible now. I look forward to the dust settling on the Covid-19 situation to enable the ball to get rolling on that process.
Are there any learnings to take away for after Covid-19?
The current situation provides an excellent opportunity for us to seriously rethink the way we work. Take my 45 to 60 min. commute to the office every morning, which stresses me out before I even get to the office – and I don’t even live far away. Covid-19 is establishing the home office as a true alternative, creating quality time for us and avoiding CO2 emissions in the process.