South African hydrogen energy company Bambili Energy CEO Zanele Mavuso Mbatha has confirmed that her company will start production of hydrogen fuel cells next year. She was addressing a graduation ceremony on Thursday for students who had completed a six-week training course to skill them in the installation, operation and maintenance of hydrogen fuel cells.
She also announced that her company and the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (Ewseta) had cooperated to select a number of the course graduates for one-year internships at Bambili next year. When the company’s manufacturing facility was inaugurated later next year, it would be possible to offer them, and perhaps other course graduates, full-time jobs, as the company would have to recruit staff for the facility.
The training course was an idea that Bambili had proposed to the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). She praised the DSI for being open to new ideas and described the partnership between the company and the department as “phenomenal”.
Developing and implementing the training course required the creation of “some amazing partnerships”, she highlighted. In addition to Bambili, the DSI and Ewseta, the partnership involved the DSI’s Hydrogen South Africa programme (better known as HySA), the South African National Energy Development Institute, and the University of Pretoria.
The programme provided training for currently unemployed graduates from technical and vocational education and training colleges. The trainees all had N4- or N6-level qualifications in chemical and electrical engineering.
“Johannesburg is considered to be one of the largest man-made urban forests in the world,” observed Mbatha. This reflected the foresight and determination of people many years ago. She then used this as a metaphor for the graduating students, saying that they were the “trees” from which the future “forest” of a new industry would be formed.
She affirmed that the significance of the training they had received was not so much about what they had learned but about the mindset that had hopefully been created in them. She assured them that they had phenomenal careers ahead of them, as they drove a new industry. The intent was to create a hydrogen economy in South Africa.