Announcement: SMIN Power Group, Solar Power Engineering For Africa, Covered In Forbes Afrique Again! (English Language)
Sandrine Mubenga, the specialist in electrical engineering
Exclusive web 18 August 2016 Patrice Ndungidi
Sandrine Mubenga, the specialist in electrical engineering
Electrical engineer, Congolese Sandrine Mubenga is the designer of the hydrogen car. Since 2011, she has been and has been the founder and CEO of SMIN Power Group for the design and installation of solar systems and renewable energy. The company is based in the USA but also has an office in Kinshasa since 2013. Certified as a professional engineer (PE) in the State of Ohio in the USA, married and mother of three children, Sandrine Mubenga is, since 2012, Manager of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Toledo where she manages an annual budget of $ 15 million for energy.
Sandrine Mubenga says she is passionate about the clean energy she gives people so that they can improve their living conditions at the same time they fight climate change. “I firmly believe that electricity saves lives. I prove this because I almost died because of the lack of electricity. This experience between life and death for three days instilled in me the passion to find a solution to the lack of electricity. That’s how I became an electrical engineer, “explains Sandrine Mubenga. The latter has 14 years of experience in electrical engineering and has worked for General Electric and First Energy.
As a PhD student in Electrical Engineering at the University of Toledo, Ohio, USA, Sandrine Mubenga has successfully completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering. During her research to obtain the Master’s degree, she succeeded in making an electric car hybrid so that it could run indifferently with hydrogen gas or electric current. Thus, in 2008, the University of Toledo, USA awarded him the best research prize of Master of the Department of Electrical Engineering (Most Outstanding Thesis). Sandrine Mubenga has also developed a solar system that produces hydrogen from water. “This project was funded by the US Department of Energy. Over the years, I have worked on the design of several solar power plants totaling 50,000 KW in the USA. To give you a more concrete idea, 1,000 KW are enough to supply 160 houses, so 50,000 KW is equivalent to the electricity used by 8,000 houses. Thus, SMIN Power Group has already fueled a community with solar energy. “The amount of CO2 we avoided is equivalent to removing 52 cars from the road. Since our opening, we have conducted studies and designed solar systems for several communities. At the University of Toledo, with my team we reduced the cost of energy by $ 4, 2 million. A second effect of this reduction in energy, which is equally important, is that we have significantly reduced emissions caused by greenhouse gases. So we continue to fight climate change. Another accomplishment achieved at the University was the creation of Sustainability Energy Efficiency and Design initiative to engage students, professors, and the community to combat climate change by conserving energy, “says the founder of SMIN Power Group.
From employee to manager
The idea of creating this company, says Sandrine Mubenga, came to her after she worked in various large companies in the US on more than 50,000 KW of solar power plants. After launching the company in the United States, it also wished to implement it in Africa where the need for energy is more prominent. SMIN Power Group has been present in Kinshasa in the DRC since 2013, with a qualified staff consisting of 2 engineers, 4 electricians, a legal department and a financial advisor. “Today I am very satisfied with the work we are doing in the DRC where we are serving the various communities. In Bandundu, for example, in Kikwit, we carried out feasibility studies for two secondary schools and one Catholic parish. These studies have demonstrated to these communities that solar energy is a cost-effective and sustainable solution. In Kinshasa, we designed and installed a solar system for a community. This community is autonomous 24h / 24h in electric power. And this solar system that we have designed and installed has a 25 year warranty. It is a silent and non-polluting system unlike the generator! And it is cheaper in the long run if we compare the price of fuel and maintenance of the generator. Our Kinshasa office also provides free training to our clients who want to understand more about the benefits of renewable energies,” says the young entrepreneur.
Nevertheless, Sandrine Mubenga deplores the bureaucracy and the slowness in the business in the DRC as well as the often vague criteria in the procedures of procurement. “But that does not block our ambitions because we know what we are capable of,” she says, even though she admits to being impatient and loving that things are done according to her programming. “I forget that sometimes there are constraints that make things not realized as programmed. I am learning to understand that there are circumstances beyond our control. Despite my impatience, I do not let go when I am determined to reach my goal. That’s why I often take my pain in patience and continue what I do, “says Sandrine Mubenga.
Renewable energy for sustainable development
“Our experience with solar systems in the DRC has shown us that using a solar system is much cheaper than using a generator. Our customers realize savings of +/- 30% using solar energy, “says SMIN Power Group CEO. This is why Sandrine Mubenga plans to finish her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in the USA as soon as possible, in order to concentrate on more in-depth research to combat global warming in the world and especially in Africa. Very ambitious, it also plans to establish its company in all the provinces of the DR Congo, to make access to electricity easier for the populations and create more jobs for its compatriots.
Key note speaker at international conferences
The latter, especially those in the USA, have long recognized their merits. In 2009, the Congolese Association of Washington DC awarded him the “Nkoy Merit Award”. Also in the same year, the association “Friends of the Congo” based in Boston awarded him the “Congolese Merit Award”. In 2010, Sandrine Ngalula was also named “Young Engineer of the Year” by the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 2011, the same IEEE Institute presented him with a certificate of appreciation for all the services rendered to advance the profession of engineer. Since then, Congolese women have been invited to speak at several international conferences. Thus, in November 2015, she presented the results of her research at the International Conference on Renewable Energy in Italy which brought together scientists from 52 countries. In June 2016, she was keynote speaker at the 27th Energy Fair which brought together 15,000 people in Wisconsin, USA, an event organized by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. In September, she will also be keynote speaker at Sultani Makutano 2, the business networking of the Congolese and African successes that will take place in Kinshasa in the DRC.