Women in Energy Feature – Tlholohello Lolo Motsamai, Founder and Executive Director at SHE in Energy Africa


I have a decade plus experience as a business development and marketing executive with a demonstrated history of working in the financial sector (banking), construction material supply, the built environment industry (Architecture & Townplanning) and the energy sector.

Academically, I have an IT qualification which I have never used in my career and have rendered the qualification obsolete as mine has always been a flair towards sales and marketing. I have completed the Management Development Programme through the UFS Business School, various online training programmes through the RENAC Renewables Academy and currently a trainee with the institution for the Energy Transformation Expert Programme (EnerTracks). I am also the representative for the RENAC Green People’s Energy for Africa Alumni Network (ANSAP) and my ultimate academic goal is to pursue an MBA in Renewable Energy through the Alma Mater the RENAC Renewables Academy.

I am passionate about gender advocacy and out of passion, excitement and frustration, founded SHE in Energy Africa (NPC) which seeks to narrow gender disparities in the energy sector through skills development and training and to accelerate women’s role not only as professionals but as entrepreneurs in the energy sector. The highlights in my gender advocacy journey, was serving as the country chairperson of African Women in Energy and Power and for being one of the first cohort to participate in the WE Connect Mentorship supported by SAPVIA and SAWEA.

My favourite qoute and also my credo is by Oprah Winfrey; the best deterrent to racism and sexism is through excellence.


How did you end up in the energy sector and what advice would you give to other women wanting to follow a similar career trajectory?

I matriculated back in 1999. “IT” (Information Technology) was the buzzword, and inevitably, in 2000, I enrolled in an IT Diploma, a qualification I have rendered obsolete as I have never used it in my entire career. Interestingly, it was while I was working at the institution on a part-time basis as a student advisor that I discovered my love for sales and marketing. Fast forward to 2003, I landed a job in the financial sector at ABSA bank as a retail sales consultant. After 3 years with the financial institution, I decided to leave my hometown, Bloemfontein, and relocated to Johannesburg, looking for greener pastures.

Completely by chance, I was introduced to the energy sector/solar industry where I worked as a sales representative, marketing, and selling solar water heating systems at the company Solar Heat Exchangers. While at the time, I didn’t envision staying long in the industry and ultimately building a career as an entrepreneur, gradually I fell in love with the idea that water could also be heated using the sun/solar energy generated through panels. At the same time, preserving the environment due to renewable energy technologies being less carbon-intensive. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

In your opinion, why do you think the energy sector in its current state has less female representation and do you see it increasing?

I think the perception that one has to come from a technical/engineering background, and rightfully so, I suppose, as the sector is highly technical, is also a contributor to the lesser female representation in the sector and industry. And again, this is where the importance of introducing, educating, and exposing such sectors, industries, and career opportunities, particularly to the HDI, is very important. On a positive note, I strongly believe we are going to see more participation by women, whether as professionals or entrepreneurs, in the sector and industry, thanks to policies supporting gender equity and mainstreaming in both the sector and industry.

If you could have tea with any public figure – dead or alive – who would it be and why?

So, I have a great love for music, something I got from my folks, with quite an eclectic taste. Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba are the two women I would want to meet with, I think we could start off with coffee and later wine, because there would be so much to talk about, not just musically but politically. I love how they both used their gift as musicians for a bigger purpose, which was political activism. It’s something I myself used to be very passionate about but have toned down as I grow older.

What does being a woman in the energy sector mean to you?

Being a woman in the energy sector, for me, means working twice as hard as my male counterpart. I feel that one constantly must prove oneself, not only just to be seen but also to be heard. This is very important to have a voice in the sector and industry, not just on issues of gender but also on sector developments and challenges.

What opportunities do you see in Africa’s energy market?

The African continent, which is endowed not only with minerals but also with energy sources, whether it’s solar, wind, or gas reserves, presents a plethora of opportunities that could boost the continent’s economy beyond what we could imagine possible as Africans and as a unified unit. This is achievable only if the continent is well governed.

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