Meet Our Team: Toni Beukes
Hello from Hyphen
Kicking off our new Hello from Hyphen series is Toni Beukes, Head of Environment, Social & Governance (ESG), who we caught up with earlier this week.
1. Can you tell us about your role at Hyphen and what you do day to day?
My role leading the socio-economic development workstream has involved engaging in extensive negotiations with the Namibian government over the past twelve months. These negotiations have revolved around a Feasibility and Implementation Agreement (FIA) for our project and a crucial component of this agreement focuses on the implementation of a socio-economic development (SED) framework. This framework aims to foster Namibian participation through employment opportunities and local procurement, and bring about real benefits for the people of Namibia.
My time is currently being taken up in planning on how to effectively communicate the SED framework, its significance, its contents, and the benefits it could bring to various stakeholders locally.
I’m will also be responsible for developing the SED strategy and plan, which will be presented to the Government at the end of the feasibility phase. This process entails gathering substantial data, conducting SED baseline studies, and engaging in consultations with local communities, civil society organizations, regional leaders, local authorities, and the private sector. The insights gained from these interactions will inform the development of the SED strategy and plan, guiding our implementation of the planned initiatives during the project’s construction phase.
2. What was your first ever job?
If you’re curious, let me take you on a trip down memory lane to my earliest job experiences. As a teenager, I worked many different jobs. Firstly, I sold doughnuts, lovingly made by my aunt, in our neighbourhood of Nama10/7, Katutura, and sold newsletters for the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), of which my late father, Attie Beukes was co-founder. During my time in high school, I worked as a waitress at the Irish Pub and Grill, O’Hagan’s.
While pursuing my studies, I did general administrative work at the Ministry of Justice and after finishing my legal studies I worked as a Candidate Attorney at the firm of Kauta, Basson and Kamuhanga Attorneys.
3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
The Hyphen socio-economic development (SED) framework holds the potential to directly contribute to the social upliftment and economic advancement of Namibians in a way that could be truly transformative and sustained over time. I enjoy grappling with the questions of how we achieve this potential in practical terms through a process of collective problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and innovation.
4. What advice would you give to someone considering a career in renewable energy?
There couldn’t be a better time to get involved in this dynamic sector! The African hydrogen industry is projected to create nearly 4 million jobs by 2050. As a pioneer in green hydrogen development in Africa, Namibia has positioned its citizens as potential leaders in the hydrogen economy. Through specialised skills training and development spanning the hydrogen economic value chain, Namibians have the unique opportunity to capitalise on employment prospects locally and globally. That’s why it’s paramount for Namibians to consider pursuing careers in the renewable energy sector. The demand for specialised skills to unlock our country and Africa’s hydrogen potential is significant and cannot be overstated.
5. Can you share an interesting fact about yourself?
In ninth grade, I refused corporal punishment at my school. Even though it had been legally abolished the year before, I was suspended for insubordination. My father saw an opportunity for something greater. He encouraged me to contact the local news, recognising the power of shedding light on the continued existence of corporal punishment in some schools.
That evening, my story made its way to the 8 o’clock news. The broadcast exposed not only the incident I faced but also the broader issue of schools still practicing corporal punishment, fuelling public debate. My father’s wisdom and guidance empowered me to challenge the status quo and showed me the transformative power of speaking out against injustice.
6. When you’re not at work, what do you like to do?
Dancing and the outdoors are my passions. I often go hiking and camping. There is nothing quite like the stillness of the Namibian bush to rejuvenate the soul.
7. What are you most excited about for the future of the renewable industry in Namibia?
The future of the renewable industry in Namibia holds immense excitement and promise. The monumental scale of the Hyphen project, alongside our government’s ambitions for a green hydrogen industry, marks significant milestones in our nation’s economic development.
These endeavours not only contribute to global energy security and the fight against climate change but also offer substantial socio-economic benefits for the people of Namibia. Moreover, they pave the way for numerous employment opportunities, skill development and entrepreneurial ventures, particularly benefiting the disenfranchised youth of our country. I’m eagerly anticipating the positive transformations that lie ahead.
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?
The best piece of advice I received in my career resonates deeply and was from my late father, who told me to “not let circumstances change me, but to change my circumstances.” This early lesson in agency and self-determination has been a guiding principle throughout my life, helping me overcome obstacles and achieve success in my professional journey.