Power List 2023: Pan-Africa Female Leaders in Energy

In a recent conversation, Natacha, a nominee for the prestigious Pan African Power List, dives deep into her journey and her commitment to shaping a brighter, inclusive, and sustainable energy future for Africa.

Congratulations on your nomination, Natacha! How do you feel about being recognized as one of the 50 exceptional women in the Pan African Power List?

I'm deeply humbled. This isn't just an individual achievement as a woman engineer and leader, but a reflection of our shared vision at CSI Energy Group. Africa's energy story is unique, and as we work towards a "just" energy transition, we're looking to ensure energy security, affordability, sustainability, and inclusion for every African. And for us, this energy transition can only be inclusive if we manage to empower and enable African women entrepreneurs, leaders, engineers, and technicians as key players in this journey.

Can you share a moment or experience in your journey that you believe significantly contributed to this recognition?

The Pan African Power List showcase African women, who, despite facing many challenges, keep pushing boundaries, keep venturing into territories where no one wants to go, and creating a new reality where a woman- while also taking care of a family- can set up and run a company successfully, invest in other businesses, make impactful decisions, and/or design and execute on strategies that influence a whole organization and set new standards in an industry.


I am not really sure what specific moment of my career contributed to my recognition on this Power List, but I guess it’s my whole journey as a woman engineer, entrepreneur, investor, community builder, independent director, and now as a strategy executive in the Energy sector, that led me to this recognition. And I am deeply grateful to life for having allowed me to have this journey.

The Pan African Power List focuses on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability. In your perspective, how critical are these pillars in shaping the future of the African energy sector, and how do you integrate them into our company's strategy?

Africa's scenario in the energy sector is one-of-a-kind, with the continent contributing to less than 4% of global carbon emissions, but with 43% of the population still lacking access to electricity and many key sectors like healthcare, education, hospitality and governmental institutions in desperate need for energy security. Being able to provide a stable source of energy – and at an affordable price - to houses, institutions and businesses is therefore a key component of Africa’s energy transition. Of course, using green energy as a source whenever it’s possible, but it’s not always the case in specific African regions, if we want electricity to remain affordable. So there is really a balance to be found between energy security, affordability and sustainability.


Now, Diversity Equity and Inclusion (‘DEI’) is also a crucial part of the equation, as, if not designed properly, there is a risk that energy transition in Africa is done in a way that does not suit the realities and needs of local communities, and that benefits only to a few prominent stakeholders- this, again, would not be sustainable in the long term. We need a just energy transition, one that also makes space for everyone to be “empowered” (in every sense), benefit and grow: local communities, small local businesses, women and other minorities in Africa.


This is why, at CSI Energy Group, we have integrated DEI in our group’s Purpose statement “Enabling Africa’s Just Energy Transition” and aligned our group strategy to that Purpose so that, while we are busy providing innovative energy solutions that are secure, affordable and sustainable, we never forget to leverage on local capabilities, nurturing existing potential, and leveling the playing field by supporting the growth of African women entrepreneurs, smaller players and local communities in the process. Within our teams, we also ensure that every employee, regardless of their background, is given an equal chance for growth, learning, and leadership.


We also recognize the impact of our actions today on tomorrow and we've established a clear sustainability roadmap with set targets. It's our guidepost for ensuring every project aligns with a more sustainable future and meet Africa’s unique needs.


And for me, all of this isn't just a strategy; it's really a personal commitment from the top management of CSI.

This nomination acknowledges leaders who are laying the foundation for a sustainable and equitable tomorrow. What's your vision for CSI Energy Group and Africa at large in the coming years in relation to these values?

My vision is clear and heartfelt. I see companies in Africa where women are more than just part of the team; they're leading big projects and bringing fresh ideas. Every person, no matter their background, should feel they have the same chances to grow and make a difference. A future where sustainability isn’t just a must do. It's a roadmap, where exploring new, smart energy solutions tailored for Africa, balance the need for affordable and secure power with caring for our environment. It's not just about a one-size-fits-all approach; our journey is as diverse as our continent.

Finally, as a role model for many, especially women in STEM, what advice would you give to those aspiring to make a positive change in their respective fields and communities?

First, find a big societal or environmental challenge that you deeply care about and want to solve, and just “fall in love” with this problem. This will give you a purpose that will keep you going when you face challenges or when you want to quit.


Dedicate a fair amount of time to humbly learn about the problem you’re trying to solve, and better understand every aspect of it. There is a lot of noise everywhere; listen to everyone, ask tons of questions, read a lot of case studies, experts podcasts, articles and reports, but at the end of the day, make your own opinion of the problem, decide on how you want to solve it… then just act on it, measure the outcomes of your actions, learn from your mistakes and iterate on your approach!


Last but not least, always surround yourself with people who believe in you, who will remain positive and encouraging while also being candid to you in their feedback, and always keep your heart and mind open, and lend a hand to those around you.