RIP: Sawea’s Ntombifuthi Ntuli – a bold and brilliant leader

RIP: Sawea’s Ntombifuthi Ntuli – a bold and brilliant leader

The South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) and the sector at large, today mourned the loss of Ntombifuthi Ntuli, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Sawea, and as South Africa celebrates Women’s month, a loss of a bold and brilliant leader.

Sawea said, “Fondly known as Ntombi, she leaves behind two young children and an extended family who will no doubt feel the full extent of this loss.”

Mercia Grimbeek, the chairperson of Sawea, said, “Ntombi changed the face of the wind industry in our country. She made the industry relatable with her ability to engage with the most stubborn naysayer, helping them to see her point of view and winning everyone over with her charming smile and her calm strength.”

Niveshen Govender, the chief operating officer for the solar PV industry body SA Photovoltaic Industry Association (Sapvia), said, “The passing of Ntombifuthi Ntuli is a tragic loss to South Africa. A bold and brilliant leader, Ntombifuthi played an instrumental role in South Africa’s energy transition.”

Sawea said Ntombifuthi had steered the wind power sector, in her leadership role, since her appointment to the CEO position, in September 2019. During this time, she drew on her depth of knowledge and talents, and crafted over more than 15 years in the energy and related sectors.

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

Sawea said she had built strong bridges throughout the energy sector, founded on her sound logic and ability to see the bigger picture. Her lobbying efforts for the country’s transition to cleaner power were underpinned by supportive government policy and smooth procurement, which will help to ensure the sector’s exponential growth for years to come.

“But, it is safe to say that her legacy will live on not only through her successes, but also in the hearts of the people that make up this industry,” it said.

Sawea, including its board members and all its staff, extended their heartfelt condolences to Ntuli’s family.

“Since her appointment as CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea), our two organisations have worked more closely to align the views of the wind and solar PV industries to better meet the needs of our members and society. Ntombifuthi will be greatly missed by all in the renewable energy sector, where her knowledge, experience and passion have proven critical in driving the sector forward, said Govender.

Govender said, “Her commitment to delivering jobs, industrialisation and ensuring broad economic impact of the renewable energy industry will be her legacy and we will continue her work to drive for a just transition that uplifts all South Africans. On behalf of the members of Sapvia we extend our heartfelt sympathies to Ntombifuthi’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.”

Ntuli died just as Minister for Natural Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe this week gazetted the amendments to Schedule 2 of the electricity act lifting the generation threshold for private companies to generate up to 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity for their own use and sell excess energy to the grid, leaving the door open for the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to begin consider applications.

In Ntuli’s passing, one must also salute her contribution to leadership and the challenges women face in climbing the corporate ladded .

The PricewaterhouseCoopers’s 13th edition of the executive directors’: Practices and remuneration trends report this month found that women continue to remain a minority on boards, with less than ⅕th of the JSE executive director grouping at 13 percent.

At chief executive level female representation is 5 percent according to the report.


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