“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela 

Today is Nelson Mandela day, an international day of recognition for the South African statesman and a celebration of 100 years since his birth. Nelson Mandela International day calls on everyone to do their bit to brighten up the lives of those in dire straights.

Mandela, who became president of South Africa in 1994 and retired in 1999, was the champion of Eskom’s electrification programme. The parastatal reports that it provided 2-million new connections during Mandela’s term in office.

Mandela Day 2018

In honour of Nelson Mandela Day, a number of initiatives have been planned, including one whereby South African students have an opportunity to showcase their work and engage with leaders in the power field at POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa.

The Gen-X Theatre, the brain child of advisory board member, Bertha Dlamini, gives the next generation of power sector professionals a unique opportunity to present their ideas and engage with industry leaders and VIPs from across the continent and the world. It also creates a setting where aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators can be discovered by prospective funders and financiers.

Previous participants report that the Gen-X experience has been hugely beneficial for them in a number of ways. “This is a great initiative. It exposes young researchers in engineering to best practice, technologies and experts. This gives us a chance to get input, ideas and feedback from the outside world to improve our work,” said Siyanda Biyela, an M.Sc Engineering (Elec) student at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“This opportunity [helped build] my confidence in the energy industry through exposure, reading, writing and presenting,” said Thembinkosi Maphosa, a PhD student at the University of the Western Cape School of Business and Finance.

“Gen-X seeks to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the power sector, and with support from the power sector, we would like to expand the initiative to include students from across Africa,” said Dlamini.

The Gen-X Theatre will include talks by African industry leaders and presentations by young electrical engineers and post-graduate students from South Africa. The presentations will be adjudicated and awards presented for the best papers.

In support of Nelson Mandela Day, POWER-GEN & DistribuTECHAfrica has sponsored R30,000 ($2,500) to this important initiative.

This year, a partnership has also been secured with European Utility Week to be held from 6 - 8 November 2018 Vienna, Austria to enrol the top three Gen-X presenters in their Initiate! Young Talent Programme – EUW in Vienna. “This will be a lifetime experience for our young stars in energy,” says Dlamini.

Picture credit: Mandeladay.com