Women in Energy Feature – Iman Mkwanazi, Director at Matleng Energy Solutions


Iman is the co-director of Matleng Energy Solutions, which specialises in energy advice, sustainable housing, gas, and environmentally friendly renewable solutions. Iman has sustainable projects in the private and public sectors and has received awards for human capital development; advisory services; empowerment of women and youth and contributing to sustainability. She is also one of the finalists for Mail and Guardians 2023 200 Young South Africans.

Iman holds a BSc,MDP, Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and MBA as well as the international certificates from the IESEG School of Management, Paris.To better equip herself in her field, she went back to university to study electrical engineering and hopes to register for her PhD in Energy Studies.  Iman’s vision is to contribute to stabilising transmission and distribution of energy so that all South Africans have access to energy through both alternative and traditional methods.

Personal Questions

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?

Situations personal to me led me in the direction of energy which really felt like a full circle moment, going back to the field of science. What I find most enticing about electrical engineering and the energy sector is that it is constantly evolving. You’ll never be bored, before 1973 who knew we would be powering up our own homes using solar?

I think our paths are always different and there’s no one size fits all. But I think preparation is so important, especially for us women, equip yourself with knowledge (not only institutionalized education). Sometimes its sheer luck but the majority of the time luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Don’t miss an opportunity because you didn’t prepare. Most importantly, patience- when it’s your season, nothing will stop you.

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 energy is no different to any sector or industry, the low representation of women is a product of centuries of patriarchal structures which often favoured men but as we move away from that things will change. I would also like to believe that unlike the other gender our strongest muscle is the brain ( I’m kidding). On a serious note I think it’s already changing, for instance 70% of STEM graduates in Iran are women. 

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

Martin Thembisile Hani (AKA Chris Hani). In his journey from his days as a young man till his death he believed in putting people first, irrespective of the consequence. A true leader who lead with humanity and intelligence not one without the other.

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

Hmmmmm, this is a bit tricky. Sometimes I don’t like that I’m the only women in the room but I must be honest I don’t have an answer for this question. We know the historical challenges that women face in various industries, they are not specific to the energy sector and they are still there up until sectors/industries start to believe in equality and equity in order to equal the gender platform.

Industry Questions

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

I think Africa has so much potential, Africa needs a well-structured strategy with an execution plan that works for Africa.  We need to revise our energy plans and policies, many of our countries in Africa are developing nations who cannot compete with the goals of developed nations. The opportunities are endless with our plethora of natural resources but it all comes down to plans and policies that can be executed.