4 JULY 2023

Sunshine Inclusion: Empowering Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities in Solar

The solar energy industry in South Africa is experiencing substantial growth, presenting a wide range of opportunities for investment, job creation, and sustainable development. This expansion encompasses various aspects, including establishing large-scale solar farms and installing solar panels on rooftops, enabling the country to enhance its capacity for renewable energy and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (2021), solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind technologies have demonstrated strong business cases and gained momentum in selected African markets, such as South Africa and Egypt, thanks to declining costs and increasing policy support.

To support and foster the development of the solar energy sector, the South African government has implemented a range of supportive initiatives, funding options, and training programs. These measures aim to facilitate the industry’s growth and position South Africa as a leading player in solar power generation. The country is paving the way towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future by capitalising on the declining costs and increasing viability of solar energy technologies.

In line with the remarkable growth of the solar energy industry, the recent AWEaP webinar focused on highlighting the opportunities available within this booming market. The webinar brought together dedicated individuals, including both women and men, who shared valuable insights into the industry, specifically emphasising the potential for women, youth, and individuals with disabilities to contribute and benefit from the sector’s growth. The aim was to raise awareness and promote inclusivity in the solar energy industry, ensuring that all segments of society can participate in and reap the benefits of this expanding field.

The webinar provided a platform for various stakeholders to share their expertise and perspectives on the opportunities within the solar energy sector. In particular, the participation of platinum sponsor Rockwell Automation underscored the importance of establishing a robust support network for women entrepreneurs in the smart grid sector. They highlighted the integration of automation, data, and solar systems within the smart grid as a significant opportunity for women to access and benefit from the renewable energy market.

Additionally, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) provided an overview of the growing solar market in South Africa. SAPVIA emphasised the vast array of opportunities available within the solar energy sector and highlighted the availability of funding programs through various industry associations. Their commitment to the comprehensive development and growth of women, youth, and individuals with disabilities in the solar energy industry was evident as they showcased initiatives to promote inclusivity and ensure equal access to opportunities.

The webinar also featured a panel discussion on support programs offered by the public sector, including the South African Electro Technical Export Council’s integrated Renewable Energy Efficiency Program and the Channel Partner Program. The panel emphasised the importance of skills development and the inclusion of women, youth, and people with disabilities in the solar energy industry. The Department of Mineral Resources presented the progress of solar energy projects and expressed its support for women in South Africa. They highlighted the significance of acquiring diverse skills and called for increased participation of women, youth, and people with disabilities in the solar industry.

Furthermore, Phoki Holdings, an organisation dedicated to empowering persons with disabilities and women entrepreneurs in the energy and power sector, emphasised that physical disabilities should not hinder participation in the solar energy industry. They advocated for removing barriers based on misconceptions and perceptions, highlighting the importance of equal opportunities for all.

Overall, the AWEaP webinar effectively shed light on the growth and opportunities within the solar energy industry in South Africa. The shared presentations, discussions, and insights underscored the necessity of inclusive interventions, skills development, and support for women, youth, and individuals with disabilities in the renewable energy industry. With a supportive policy landscape, funding options, and training programs, South Africa is well-positioned to maximize the potential of the solar energy industry, ensuring a sustainable and inclusive transition to clean energy.

Our theme for 2023 is: Together, we can make inclusion in Africa's energy and power sector a competitive edge.

The following stakeholders were invited to share insights on the construct of energy value chains and opportunities emerging as countries endeavour to achieve security of energy supply:

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs):

Our monthly webinars included OEMs like Rockwell Automation for the following reasons: OEMs design and manufacture products, services, solutions, and systems sought by utilities and different large power users in the energy and power sector. We invite them to share trends in electricity system digitisation, decarbonisation, and decentralisation. We invite them to showcase how they enable access to technology for SMMEs, especially women-owned companies.

Industry Associations:

To build reciprocal value-adding networks is fundamental to the success of any entrepreneur. Industry Associations like The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association serve as a unified voice for individual enterprises within a given industry. This provides opportunities to exchange knowledge, debate issues, build standards, and establish norms for best practices within the energy industry. AWEaP is a non-competitive platform and organisation. We collaborate with other associations to build a supportive and inclusive energy ecosystem.

Government Departments:

The webinar aimed to foster collaborations, facilitate knowledge sharing, and encourage meaningful dialogue among influential decision-makers and thought leaders. The central objective is to drive forward the agenda of gender equality and inclusivity within the energy domain. This forum provides an invaluable opportunity for government stakeholders like the Department of Mineral resources to explicate their efforts in integrating gender mainstreaming principles into policies, programs, and practices within the energy sector. By acknowledging and addressing women’s diverse needs, roles, and aspirations, we can cultivate a more equitable and sustainable energy landscape. Inviting government stakeholders to speak provides a unique platform for exploring effective strategies, sharing experiences, and identifying actionable steps toward achieving this pivotal goal.


Content Framework

Webinar 6



Introduction to AWEaP

Purpose of the webinar and Introduction to the topics


Founding President
African Women in
Energy and Power NPC

Platinum Sponsor:

Technology that supports utilities as they integrate renewable energy into their energy system

Rockwell Automation

Managing Director & Country Sales
Director Sub-Sahara Africa

How can we implement essential interventions to establish a diverse pool of solar installers while simultaneously fostering opportunities for women, youth, and individuals with disabilities within the renewable energy industry?


Setting the Scene: The growing South African Solar market (Residential and Commercial)

South African Photovoltaic Industry Association

Head of Advisory

Support Programmes from the public sector

–        South African Electro Technical Export Council:  Ms. Chiboni Evans

–        Department of Mineral Resources and Energy: Ms. Elizabeth Marabwa

Support programmes from the Industry

–        South African Photovoltaic Association:  Mr. Maloba Tshehla

–        Mulilo Energy: Ms. Nomfundo Mbijekana

Challenges observed

–        Bright On Capital: Mr. Tshepo Headbush

Ms Bertha Dlamini

Industry Perspective

What it will take to deliberately include persons with disabilities in South Africa’s growing Solar Energy Sector

Phoki Holdings

Managing Director
Phoki Foundation & Holdings

South Africa: Skills Development

Access to Skills Development

Tim Brown Electrical College

Training Manager/Solar Trainer,
Tim Brown Electrical College – MDV Viable Projects

Closing Remarks

Working together to build an inclusive energy market


Founding President
African Women in
Energy and Power NPC

We encourage you to do the following:

  1. Visit our YouTube channel
  2. Watch previous webinars
  3. Take notes from the presentations given
  4. Note the tips shared on how you can gain entry into the energy and power sector as an entrepreneur
  5. Note programmes in place to address some of the barriers:
    1. Access to market
    2. Access to skills development
    3. Access to finance
    4. Access to technology
  6. Download presentations and listen to the recorded webinar again
  7. Follow through by: visiting websites and taking the initiative to build the network necessary to enable your participation.


"When I sign off on a project, I sign as a professional, not as a person with a disability" Phoki Holdings"

Nomthandazo Mpande

“A transition to clean energy is about making an investment in our future.”

Gloria Reuben

"I think the future for solar energy is bright.'

Kim Salazar