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Ed’s note: Our present and future

News of a family losing a loved one saddens me. It also frightens me what this means for our future.

As young and old succumb to the COVID-19 virus and other illnesses, it takes its toll on those who mourn. My sympathies go out to each of them, especially young children who have lost a parent.

Our industry at large is also mourning for lost colleagues and peers – how do we deal with the loss of someone who gave us professional support through their expertise, knowledge and visionary leadership?

I was privileged to receive an introduction to Ntombifuthi Ntuli as the new CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) during the 2019 WINDABA conference. Her understanding of the market, determination to have the wind sector’s ‘voice’ heard by government and other stakeholders, and her vibrant personality told me that this is someone to watch. Also known as Ntombi, her spunk reflected in her Twitter handle, FuthiGirl.

Her sudden passing last week was a shock for everyone, including myself.

Responding to the news, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said: “Ms Ntuli played a major role in the energy sector, particularly with regards our departmental, national and global agenda on renewable energy. Upon her appointment in 2019 to the position of SAWEA CEO, she hit the tarmac running and made an immediate impact on the sector.”

SAWEA said her charismatic yet gentle nature defined Ntombifuthi’s leadership, resilience and determination to successfully steer the industry towards playing a central role in South Africa’s energy transition while being a uniting force.

These statements personify her contribution to the sector.

I wish to pay tribute to Ntombi and other incredibly knowledgeable professionals who passed away this year. Among them is Dr Minnesh Bipath, acting CIO and programme manager for smart grids, data and knowledge management at SANEDI; Bob Wallis, Past Chairman of the AMEU; Wimpie Ludwick, General Manager of BEKA Schréder, Jabu Mabuza, businessman and chairman of the Eskom board; and Foibe Louise Namene, CEO of the Namibian Electricity Control Board.

These men and women have put solid foundations in place, for which we are grateful and acknowledge their contribution. 

It worries me to think of the lost tacit knowledge and talent our industry will face once the pandemic is behind us.

Fortunately, professionals like Ntombi took the time to contribute to papers, reports and interviews, thereby providing a record of their valuable technical and policy knowledge. This information is instrumental to the many skills development programmes available for young market entrants.

So, when reflecting on the conversations and moments you shared with lost colleagues, commit to also ensuring their knowledge of the industry continues through you.

For my part, I commit to act as a conduit for delivering knowledge through publishing your industry insights. Each of you is valuable, and I thank you for your contribution to the sector. 

Until next week. Stay safe.

Editor, ESI Africa  

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.