GIBB Engineering, a world-class Africa-based solutions provider of infrastructure planning, has appointed senior electrical engineer, Gomolemo Ntlailane, in its Power Division.In this role, his goal is to contribute to problem-solving in the energy sector – especially with a view to resolving the challenges that South Africa is facing. With expertise in power, mining, water, transport, industrial, project finance and development, property, petrochemicals, and energy markets in Africa, GIBB Power focuses on supporting energy projects and offering solutions to the challenges of the energy transition on the continent. The company specialises in several areas of engineering, including thermal and hydraulic engineering, electricity transmission and distribution networks, and solar and wind power. These all support the rapid development of these energies throughout Africa. Raised in Brits in the North West province, Ntlailane showed great potential in mathematics – so much so, that one of his teachers put him forward for an engineering vacancy at Proconics Engineering, Procurement & Consulting. He was offered a bursary to study engineering at UCT, an opportunity that saw him relinquish his ambitions to become a scientist to pursue a career in engineering – a decision that he has never regretted. There, he gained critical knowledge and experience in the petrochemical field, primarily in low- and medium-voltage substation design, which would serve him well later on. He says, “I went on to complete my Master’s part-time while working at Proconics. My Master’s enabled me to keep up to date with engineering technology, research methodologies, and how to find and use credible information in designs and concepts to propose to clients.”
He then joined Solar Africa, where he gained experience in the design of photovoltaic (PV) plants, mainly in the commercial and industrial rooftop space. It was here that he gained an understanding of renewables: PV plant design, procurement processes, and the legal and quality aspects of PVs.Now in the employ of GIBB, Ntlailane is involved in the larger-scale projects that the company has embarked on. He says, “Pre-feasibility studies and feasibility studies have been conducted for three projects already – one in Grootvlei, North West (a 600 MW PV plant), one in Limpopo (a 210 MW PV plant) and one in Secunda (a 150 MW PV plant). With projects such as these, GIBB is likely to make a significant contribution to South Africa’s urgent need for alternative sources of power. “A highlight in my career was achieving my professional engineering registration – which is no mean feat – before the age of 30. It shows one’s competence and experience in terms of quality of design, professional client interfaces and strong values. Another high point for me was when I received formal recognition from a client for my work done on a project – this was also shared with the CEO of the company. My approach is to thoroughly understand the client’s needs before rushing into an engineering solution,” says Mr Ntlailane. What motivates Ntlailane in his work is that each new project is exciting and different, and provides him with an opportunity to improve his skills and grow in the job. ”My work philosophy is to understand the value in not taking constructive criticism personally. I also maintain that professionalism at work is essential, so personal appearance and a good attitude should be taken seriously,” he says. Staying relevant in the industry is paramount, which is why Ntlailane subscribes to industry publications such as Microgrid Knowledge, Rated Power and Engineering News and uses a platform called the Electrical Engineering Portal, through which short training courses on engineering concepts are available for engineers to complete and stay up to date with industry developments. He would like to contribute to resolving energy challenges in South Africa by being part of Advisory Boards in the Energy Industry to provide guidance in terms of which resources to invest in, and which maintenance philosophies to follow to minimise the load-shedding problem in the country. When he’s not playing soccer or basketball after hours, he’s thinking up strategies to expand GIBB’s footprint in the renewable energy space.