New Era journalist, John Muyamba (JM) recently had a conversation with Silvester Wayiti (SW) on his journey to becoming HopSol CEO. HopSol Africa is a private company in the solar industry sphere that provides turn key solutions for photovoltaic power plants, particularly in but not limited to desert areas. Hopsol is also a wholesaler of parts for photovoltaic solar power solutions.
(JM): Can you brief us on who you are and where you come from in terms of your professional career?
SW: I’m a professional Electrical Engineer with over 14 years of experience in technical, executive and directorship roles and have served in various capacities within the entire electricity supply chain, namely the generation, transmission and distribution sectors of the Namibian electricity supply industry (ESI).
In terms of education, I possess a Certificate in Executive Leadership from the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford (2020), a Master’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of Pretoria (2015) and a Bachelor of Science Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering, from the University of Cape Town (2008).
JM: How did it all start, specifically the early years?
SW: All this didn’t come easy though, having survived what I have termed a journey with a thousand steps.
I was born in 1986, in the village of Nyangana over a 100km east of Rundu in the now Kavango East region. I spent my early childhood life at Shitemo village where I also started school at the Shitemo Primary School until grade 3 when I moved to Rundu to finish of my primary school years at Kehemu Primary School. There I became a school prefect (learners’ representative) in the process. Today I’m the patron of that school.
In 2000, I started my grade 8 at the renowned St Boniface College, a Roman Catholic school located 30km east of Rundu. Life at this school was starting to shape up with strict time management being enforced, and discipline being the order of the day. Being viewed as someone who set examples for his peers in all his endeavours, I gained a confidence vote of my peers to become the school head prefect (head boy) in 2003 and 2004. I completed my grade 12 in 2004 with flying colours after sitting for Cambridge HIGCSE exams in October of that year.
After completing high school at St Boniface, I was fortunate to get a scholarship from NamPower and enrolled at the University of Cape Town in 2005 completing my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2008 and in the process becoming the first graduate in my entire family and extended family. Without this funding from NamPower, this was not going to be possible as my parents had no means whatsoever to even dream of an opportunity in South Africa.
Cape Town became my new home for the next four years, which was a huge transition from my days as a young man who had spent most of his time in the villages. The opportunity to travel and enroll at UCT was the first time leaving the village, not to mention visiting a city. It was a drastic change for which quick adaptation was crucial in order to survive the grueling demands of tertiary education and social life offerings.
JM: How did you enter the engineering profession, your early days and how you managed to get to the top?
SW: Upon completion of my first degree, I joined Debmarine in 2009 for a short stint after having been identified by the chief operating officer of Debmarine as one of the potential new recruits for the mining giant. I then joined the power utility NamPower the same year in which I worked in Generation and Transmission Business Units picking up extensive technical and project management experience. I attribute this to excellent mentorship opportunities I gained since joining the engineering industry.
I am someone who values continuous learning and exposure as key ingredients to personal growth and when an opportunity presented itself, I joined the capable Mburumba Appolus at Cenored. I took this step knowing it was important to learn as much as possible about the entire electricity supply chain. This move was testimony to my belief of impacting lives and being at the distribution end of the supply chain gave me exposure to be closer to the end users and to understand their challenges and how to craft strategies to address these challenges.
Looking back, I am glad to have embarked on a journey from the generation hubs in Namibia, through the transmission grid that interconnects these generating hubs to the distribution networks that deliver the generated power to the end users. What an experience!
JM: Explain how is this new chapter in your life and the road ahead?
SW: Having gained industry exposure, I am prepared to stir the HopSol Africa vessel, utilising the strong foundation and unmatched human capital at my disposal. Appointed as the CEO of HopSol Africa as of 01 February 2023 my role is to create an environment where HopSol’s human capital can excel, and can innovate as well as strengthen existing stakeholder relationships while forging new ones.
The energy space and customer behaviour are both changing very rapidly with new generation technologies available on the market. This alters the way new market players penetrate the market and these dynamics can’t be ignored.
JM: Tell us about HopSol Africa and what you expect for the future.
SW: HopSol Africa (Pty) Ltd, is the leading Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) company in Namibia, founded in 2011 with the vision to power Namibia and Sub-Sahara Africa through solar power. Today, HopSol is a subsidiary of Alpha Namibia Industries Renewable Energy Power (ANIREP) which is an entity that facilitates renewable energy generation, transmission and distribution projects in Namibia and Sub-Sahara Africa.
HopSol having been strongly solar power minded, has now shifted gear and moved from thinking solar power to thinking smart energy solutions, and has become a one-stop-shop for all renewable energy generation solutions. HopSol is ready to support the green economy by leveraging on its experience, expertise, strategic partners, as well as the trust shown by its clientele in its capabilities.
In conclusion, this is how I can really describe HopSol Africa. HopSol powers Namibia and Sub-Sahara Africa. HopSol powers the HopSol Soccer League! HopSol is a true corporate citizen.