Princy Mthombeni: “To work in nuclear power – you need to have scientific and multiple skills”
Princy Mthombeni, the founder of the Africa4Nuclear YouTube channel and a lifelong advocate for nuclear technology from South Africa, has participated in an interview, where she detailed the challenges nuclear technology can address in Africa and the challenges it can face. She is an award-winning international communications specialist and her recognized work includes providing high-level strategic support to the government in leading, implementing and ensuring the success of nuclear communications strategies.
It all started when Princess discovered her love of science the very moment she joined a nuclear organization. A week later, after losing her job, she received a phone call from a recruiter to be interviewed by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa). After that, she became part of FOMO (Fear of Missing out) and began actively studying nuclear communication. Princy began to accompany her colleagues in advocacy programs and attended various conferences, trainings, and seminars. It was only after all this that she became comfortable talking about science, and her interest only increased.
As Princy mentioned, one of the biggest influencers in her life was her mother. It was she who showed the importance of family and the value of self-respect. (The second biggest inspiration is Oprah Winfrey. “She does many wonderful things for the betterment of the world. Oprah has shown many people how a rough start can lead to a bigger end. She has brought so much awareness to the idea of being able to do whatever you want”, said Princy.)
Thanks to her mother's mentorship and diligence, Princess rose to the very top. She founded an NGO called the Ultimate Dream Foundation. The goal of the organization is to provide educational opportunities for young people, especially women. Princy believes that health care is dominated by professions that are mostly filled by women. For example, many of the health workers that she personally knows, such as general practitioners and nurses, are women. One can also observe how many women enter politics. In South Africa, for example, women now make up half of the cabinet. “According to UNESCO, only 23 percent of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) talent worldwide is female. There is still a long way to go before gender equality is possible. However, there is an opportunity to play a role in empowering young women and girls. In the 21st century, there is no job a man can do that a woman can't do”, Princess believes. She also plans through the Ultimate Dream Foundation to take advantage of career opportunities for young women because she believes it is an important tool to empower them to gain confidence and achieve economic stability and success. She believes that access to education is vital to a young girl’s empowerment.
Princy believes that the best platforms for sharing information about STEM majors with a young African audience are social media, where young people can be reached. Of course, social media has become an effective tool for real-time information sharing and direct interaction with audiences.
That’s why Princess decided to do her project as a video on YouTube, since it is the most popular social media platform. The plan is to integrate television into the campaign strategy.
Besides nuclear energy can solve many social problems in Africa. The African Union's agenda to 2063 is to make Africa the global powerhouse of the future. Therefore, without a solution to the energy deficit, neither economic growth nor sustainable development and improvement of the well-being of citizens will be possible. Princy believes that an effective way to solve the energy shortage would be to introduce nuclear power plants in many parts of Africa.
Another area for serious consideration is nuclear medicine. South Africa is the only country on the continent that has its own means of producing radioisotopes and commercializing radiopharmaceuticals. There is an inadequacy of nuclear medicine in Africa. In some countries, patients have to travel considerable distances to access medical care. Therefore, there is a need for governments to make efforts to increase the number of these facilities across the continent in the near future. This would make it easier for citizens to benefit from this very important diagnostic and therapeutic method of treatment.
In order to achieve everything, certain steps must be taken to promote nuclear education among the youth. Princess believes that we need to start by promoting nuclear education beginning in elementary school. “Nuclear power should be turned into a fun and fashionable career that does not only attract rocket scientists. This can be achieved through education and mentoring programs”, said Princy.
Besides, according to Princy, it is vital to increase the visibility of female role models for girls and women, especially those who excel in fields long dominated by men, such as nuclear. Without other women to look up to, many young women are getting out of technical careers on their own before they really give it a chance. More and more nuclear industry organizations should consider including scholarships or fellowships for young men to do research, studies and exchanges in other countries in their CSI strategies. This will help get more girls interested in nuclear careers. Through the Ultimate Dream Foundation, Princess is willing to partner with any organization that might be interested.
To work in nuclear power – you need to have scientific and multiple skills. Self-motivation, critical thinking, and problem solving are what Princess considers essential to success.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa4Nuclear.