Rethabile Melamu

19th January 2024 By: Martin Zhuwakinyu - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Rethabile Melamu

Rethabile Melamu, CEO of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association

Full Name: Dr Rethabile Bonang Melamu

Position and Company Name: CEO of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA)

Main Activity of the Company: SAPVIA is a not-for-profit industry association that represents close to 700 actors along the solar photovoltaic value chain in South Africa, including project developers, independent power producers, commercial banks and other financial institutions, research institutions, manufacturing companies, State-owned utility Eskom, original-equipment manufacturers, operations and maintenance companies, installation companies, law firms, and engineering, procurement and construction companies

Date and Place of Birth: August 20, 1980, Morija Village, Lesotho

Schools and Tertiary Education: St Stephen’s D High School and Machabeng International College, in Lesotho, as well as the University of Cape Town (UCT), where I obtained BSc Chem Eng, MSc Chem Eng and PhD Chem Eng degrees, and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, where I completed the Executive Leadership Programme

First Job: Research officer (equivalent to a lecturer) in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT

Size of First Pay Packet: Less than R250 000 a year

Career Path to Date: After leaving UCT, I joined GreenCape as project researcher, focusing on biofuels. This was followed by a stint at the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, where I was the director responsible for the green economy portfolio for about four years and the acting chief director overseeing the Sector and Industry branch for another year. Thereafter, I served The Innovation Hub Management Company, an innovation agency of the Gauteng government, as the GM responsible for the green economy for almost six years, before joining SAPVIA just over a year and a half ago

Value of Assets under Your Control: As a not-for-profit organisation, we do not directly manage assets

Number of People under Your Leadership: Eight currently, but we are building the team to be able to support the 700 companies we represent

Management Style: Servant leadership

Personal Best Achievement: My biggest personal achievement is being able to negotiate admission into UCT from a public payphone after being rejected

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Life: My family and friends

Person Who Has Had the Biggest Influence on Your Career: Several people, but my master’s and PhD supervisor and manager, Professor Harro von Blottnitz, has contributed tremendously to my personal, professional and leadership growth

Person You Would Most Like to Meet: I would organise a dinner to which I would invite several people, including spiritual leaders like Ghana’s Dr Mensah Otabil, renowned women leaders like Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the founders of Wiphold, Louisa Mojela and Gloria Serobe, whom I admire for their staying power and doing good without much fanfare

Businessperson Who Has Impressed You Most: Miles Kubheka, the gentleman behind the popular television advert Vuyo’s; he also owns the rights to the futuristic movie Wakanda

Philosophy of Life: I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. So, I show up knowing that a lot has been invested in me by so many people, some of whom I have never met

Biggest Ever Opportunity: Being appointed the GM for the green economy opened a lot of opportunities. My PhD has also catalysed my career progression

Biggest Ever Disappointment: The passing on of my father before he witnessed any of my graduations

Hope for the Future: I would love to see Africa’s people at the centre of addressing their own challenges using the continent’s natural endowments and youthful population

Favourite Reading: Stephen Covey’s 8th Habit, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and African writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Zakes Mda, Chinua Achebe, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Favourite TV Programme: I am generally not a TV person, but I watch documentaries on nature and infrastructure, as well as sports and even interior décor

Favourite Food/Drink: Pap, green vegetables (moroho) and stew from any source, and I cannot start my day without a cup of good coffee

Favourite Music: Soulful music, Afro jazz, Christian gospel music

Favourite Sport: Cricket, and I also enjoy soccer and athletics

Hobbies: Travelling, exploring new places, fashion curating, hosting family and friends, and exploring golf

Car: Mercedes-Benz

Pets: None

Miscellaneous Dislikes: Rude and arrogant people, terrible service and undermining of people, and lack of order

Married: I am engaged to Constantine Kayode Akinyele

Children: None at this stage

Clubs: No formal ones