SAMOA: Flavia Luamanuvae Vaai, from Salelologa, Savai’i, has earned a Master’s degree in Sustainable Energy from a top Australian university, making her one of few Pacific women to enter the male-dominated field.
Ms. Luamanuvae Vaai told the Samoa Observer she was the recipient of an Australia Award Scholarship, which allowed her to study at the University of Queensland, one of Australia's most prestigious universities.
Before traveling to Australia for her postgraduate study, Ms. Luamanuvae Vaai worked as an in-country Project Coordinator on a sustainable bioenergy project.
Funding for that project was provided by the European Union and German international development agency G.I.Z.’s Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy.
The project was housed within the Ministry of Finance’s Energy Division.
Its primary focus was the study of biomass feedstock found at the Samoa Trust Estate Corporation land in Mulifanua.
It was while working on the biomass project that Ms. Luamanuvae Vaai was inspired to pursue further studies in the hopes of assisting Samoa accelerate its transition to sustainable energy and energy independence.
Her Master’s thesis focuses on the transport sector in Samoa.
The country’s current transport mobility system is 100 per cent based on imported fossil fuels.
“This has many disadvantages affecting the economy, public health, safety, as well as the environment,” Ms. Luamanuvae Vaai said.
Her goal is to develop a sustainable and energy efficient transport network in Samoa by uncovering e-mobility opportunities reducing Samoa’s carbon footprint.
Ms. Luamanuvae Vaai said the energy industry in the Pacific and abroad is male-dominated and she is one of a few women in the Pacific region that is breaking into this industry.
She thanked her friends, family and other supporters for showing her their love and support and praised God for the achievement.
“I am looking forward to returning home after this challenging and unprecedented year of study,” Ms. Luamanuvae Vaai said.
“I could not have achieved what I have achieved without my amazing support network made up of my family and friends here in Samoa and abroad.
“Thank you for all your love and prayers.”