Dennis Labuschagne

Operations director
Khantsa Energy (Pty) Ltd

As the cofounder and operations director of Khantsa Energy, Dennis Labuschagne and his team are proud to provide access to light and solar power in the rural areas of Lesotho.

Due to the tiny kingdom’s mountainous terrain, it faces unique challenges in infrastructure installation. Most efforts to provide electricity are focused on urban and semiurban areas rather than rural villages. Labuschagne and his team provide solar lighting systems, solar geysers, electrical installations, and pay-as- you-go solar kits that feature LED lighting and charging ports to areas in rural Lesotho.

Their work “was born out of connecting with the villagers and hearing about their everyday stories regarding their dire need for electrification”. They have learned the importance of incorporating indigenous knowledge into their business model when working in local communities. By communicating and collaborating closely with the people they’re serving, his team has been better able to provide them with what they need.

Labuschagne explains: “We need to place people first by tailoring the design and implementation of projects to the needs and capabilities of those who are supposed to benefit from them. Indigenous knowledge has allowed us to understand community needs beyond electrification. By being invited into the community-building process by the chief, councillors and general assembly, we harness the power of oral knowledge and education passed down from generations; this has led to the 100% successful uptake of renewable energy.”

The company is a recent recipient of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation Äänit Prize for 2022, which supports initiatives that can deliver positive social impact for Africa’s most marginalised populations.

Labuschagne wishes South Africans knew the potential of renewable energy in Africa: “The African continent surpasses all other regions in having the most potential for renewable energy. Our natural environment can provide all we need and we do not have to harm it.”

We’ve learned the importance of incorporating indigenous knowledge into our business model when working in local communities

Author - Bob Perfect
SA Climate Change Champs

SA Climate Change Champs


How does the conversation about climate change move past simple discourse into the world of action? GreenCape has a strategy to bridge this gap with their Active Climate Change Citizenship for a Just Transition in South Africa project, known simply as SA Climate Change Champs.

GreenCape knows that for big change to happen on a national level, it is crucial not to forget those at the grassroots. When given the right tools and information, any individual can make a change in her immediate environment. Each change has a ripple effect; conversations can lead to policy change. But where to begin?

The youth are the most affected by climate change. GreenCape launched its project by sending ambassadors into schools in the Northern, Eastern, and Western Cape provinces, armed with packets of information and ideas to impart. Starting with teachers and community leaders, these ambassadors led workshops to change the conversation of climate change from one of threat to one of opportunity.

Teachers then shared what they had learned with their students, who in turn realised that they had the agency to create a real difference in the spaces they inhabit. They were shown how to strategically make small changes that reduce waste and unrenewable-energy consumption. They were introduced to virtual platforms where they could connect with others who are passionate about climate change.

They were given the tools to build clubs, which spur communities into action to create a greener future, and in doing so, alert local authorities to the importance of the cause.
The project hopes to increase active citizenship in climate change, and will conclude in 2024. GreenCape provides hope for the future of South Africa’s natural environment — and its people.

When given the right tools and information, any individual can make a change in her immediate environment

Jennifer Worthington-Smith |
Desmond Williams

Desmond Williams

Founder and chief executive
Green Share Energy

Conversations about clean and efficient energy production are dominating global and local headlines. Desmond Williams has taken a lifelong entrepreneurial spirit and applied it to one of today’s most pressing issues.

He is the founder of Greenshare, a renewable energy firm that specialises in delivering efficient energy solutions. Initially unsure of what career path he would take, he settled on psychology and philosophy — two fields that would continue to nurture his innate love of learning. After receiving his BA in psychology and philosophy from the University of Johannesburg, he pivoted into the green tech space.

As chief executive and project development and programme manager of Greenshare, Williams has assembled the technology and expert personnel that today has made the company a trusted provider of energy-efficient heating, lighting and process optimisation.

His role as Greenshare head comes after many years of entrepreneurial experience that included ventures into property, recruitment and franchising. In the early years, his firm focused on efficiency and demand, with households and businesses as their primary clients, but he was soon ready for bigger projects.

Among the many accomplishments Williams has achieved in his tenure at Greenshare, one of his proudest has to be starting construction on a 100MW solar power plant for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A desire for expansion led him to cast a wider net in the hope of becoming an independent power producer, and, with the assistance of local and international shareholders, Greenshare was able to get the DRC project off the ground.

As South Africa’s energy crisis continues to unfold, it will be Williams and those like him who will be counted on to provide solutions in an increasingly uncertain future.

In the early years, his firm focused on efficiency… but was soon ready for bigger projects

Tshiamo Seape |
Unarine Bridget Mudau

Unarine Bridget Mudau

Project manager
South African National Energy Development Institute

Unarine Bridget Mudau funnels her environmental advocacy towards her work at the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi). Since graduating with a BA from Tshwane University of Technology, she has been researching, designing and testing solar systems — sourcing energy from the sun and transforming it into electricity.

The impact of her work is both clear and meaningful, as is illuminated by her proudest achievement: she was involved in the construction of a 1MW rooftop solar photovoltaic system, which has offset about 31 500 tonnes
of harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

Mudau’s passion for environmental protection extends beyond her day job. She positions herself against pollution because of its tragic impact on the beauty of nature and the safety of endangered animals. She also urges her fellow South Africans to be more conscious of their personal choices when it comes to protecting the environment.

She is an advocate of the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle. To this end, incentivisation is a tool she views as fundamental on the path towards a greener, more habitable world.

Before working at Sanedi, Mudau spent time researching and designing solar power systems, leading to the operations and management of four solar photovoltaic ground-mounted and rooftop plant systems. She also has prior experience as an electrical technologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as well as in consulting, having worked with a variety of companies to share her expertise on solar photovoltaic business cases and energy management. Right now, she’s wrapping up an MA in electrical engineering at the University of Johannesburg.

Amid all these successes, Mudau has learned the value of managing the unexpected through careful preparation. Her advice? “Projects don’t always go according to the plan, therefore it is good to have a backup plan.”

Be more conscious of your personal choices when it comes to protecting the environment

Alice Sholto-Douglas |
Martin Sweet

Martin Sweet

Managing director

Martin Sweet is the managing director of Primestars, a majority black female-owned youth development and education organisation that supports public schools in under-resourced communities. Since 2010, Primestars programmes — including career guidance, financial literacy, leadership and entrepreneurship — have benefited over a million youths across the country.

Entrepreneurship is a major focus, and one of the organisation’s main goals is to help the youth identify opportunities in the green economy by using technology. Step Up 2 A Green Start Up, a national youth entrepreneurship programme, is the initiative that is driving their vision, and it’s one of which Sweet is particularly proud. “Now is the time to rethink how we live, eat, travel, do business, earn our livelihoods and educate our children,” he says. “The changes we make to protect the earth can also protect and strengthen our most vulnerable and neglected communities, creating a safer and more just world for all.”

The programme’s objectives include using technology to enable green businesses; to see environmental challenges as business opportunities; and to prioritise people and the planet over profit alone. “When it comes to South Africa’s youth, entrepreneurship is touted as the key to combating the youth unemployment crisis in the country,” says Sweet.

He adds that he’s found the amazing opportunities for youth development in the green economy unexpected. He wishes South Africans understood climate change better, so they can find solutions to unemployment in the green economy. Thanks to the work he and his team are doing, the future is certainly starting to look greener.

Now is the time to rethink how we live, eat, travel, do business, earn our livelihoods and educate our children

Shereen Goosen |
Fezile Dhlamini

Fezile Dhlamini

Chief executive
Green Scooter

Soweto-born Fezile Dhlamini is a pioneer in the field of renewable energy innovation. He is the founder of Green Scooters, Africa’s first all-electric e-hailing network and a proudly South African company, as well as Scooter Treats, a related online food delivery business.

Green Scooter is a leader in the newest developments in urban mobility and renewable energy. The business manufactures a distinctive line of electric scooters intended for both cargo and commuter use. The Zbee — an electric vehicle with three wheels — is marketed to those who want to buy an affordable electric car for short- to medium-distance travel, and regular commuters who require a last-mile ride. It can carry a driver and two passengers. The Zbee Cargo has a safe cargo compartment instead of passenger seats, and can be used for quick deliveries.

Manufactured locally with a Swedish firm acting as a technical partner, the scooters are environmentally sustainable and a viable alternative to typical metered taxis or e-hail companies, as they are charged from regular electrical outlets. This takes about three-and-a-half hours, and a full charge will give a driver a range of over 100km.

Dhlamini is intent on bringing about ecofriendly transformation in the transportation industry; he says he had the idea for Green Scooter after his numerous job applications were rejected by Uber.

Since its launch in 2018, Green Scooter has sold or leased 60 vehicles, and as fuel prices keep rising, this pace is accelerating. Dedicated to seeking unconventional solutions to challenging issues, it’s no surprise that Dhlamini’s motto is “nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit” — nothing of any major ingenuity has been made without an
element of madness.

Nothing of any major ingenuity has been made without an
element of madness

Neo Khanyile |