“A wise person will always find a way. “- African proverb

Ashanti Kutala Mbanga



Organisation / Company

South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi)


Ashanti Kutala Mbanga, 35, is the project manager for energy and environment at the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi), where she facilitates the implementation of the national energy efficiency appliances standards and labelling programme. She works with the department of mineral resources and energy and the Sanedi general manager to manage the electric and electronic appliance market to ensure energy-saving appliances are sold. Ashanti facilitates all processes to procure services in consultation with international, regional and local project partners. Managing project budgets and developing project plans to save the country electricity also forms part of her work. She lists her advocacy for women and youth inclusion in the energy sector as an achievement she is proud of. She was elected as the vice-chairperson for the South African Association for Females in Energy Efficiency, which enabled her to promote gender equality. Ashanti previously worked in the sustainable transport sector and says the change to the energy sector was challenging because she had limited technical knowledge. She completed relevant courses and finds value in having diversified her skills.


Post Graduate Diploma in Public and Development Management (current), Wits School of Governance
Advanced Business Project Management, Wits Business School
Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, University of Cape Town
Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Resilience, Danish Development Agency Fellowship Centre, Denmark
Bachelor of Commerce in Transport, University of Johannesburg


A recent achievement I am most proud of is my advocacy for women and youth inclusion in the energy sector. On 31 August 2021, Biz Community published an article titled “Growing opportunities for women, youth in the energy sector” in which the author referenced my participation as a presenter in the Women in Energy Leadership event, hosted by Sanedi in that year, to encourage women and youth to participate in the energy sector.
Following this publication, I was nominated and elected for a two-year tenure as the vice-chairperson for the South African Association for Females in Energy Efficiency. This platform gave me the opportunity to sit on numerous local and international knowledge-sharing platforms as a speaker and panellist on the subject of inclusion to promote gender equality and empowerment of various groups in society. My tenure ended on a high note in February 2024, with my participation as panellist at the International Energy Agency’s Energy Efficiency Training Week for African countries hosted in Nairobi, Kenya. This was a full circle opportunity given my passion for Africa’s development.


Certainly, my role models include
Dr Titus Mathe, who reignited my passion and motivation for going back to my formal academic journey when he was the chief executive. I find his integrity and regard for proper governance also refreshing because I enjoy a work environment where there are minimal moral conflicts. He is one of the honest and intelligent leaders I look to in our country.
Dr Karen Surridge, who has inspired me to find ways of enjoying what I do, even in challenging seasons. She also instilled the ability to be present in each phase of my work because change is always inevitable.
Faith Mkhacwa, my current general manager has thrived in a male dominated working environment for many years. I appreciate her transparency and the lessons she instilled in us to promote a highly motivated team.
Pastor Bianca is my spiritual role model and motivates me to remain grounded and to strive for work/life balance. She is servanthood-leadership personified. I enjoy learning from her and her family and volunteer weekly at church.