Likonge Makai Mulenga: Soaring in a male dominated field

Likonge Makayi Mulenga was recently honoured by the Engineering Institute of Zambia as an Engineering Fellow in a ceremony that was marked by pop and splendor.

The cream of the honour came when she received a green jacket.

In the field of Engineering, a green jacket means Mrs Mulenga is admitted to the prestigious group of Engineering Fellows of Zambia or the Engineering guru.

Mrs Mulenga soon after being honoured as a Fellow in Engineering

The investiture is never given on a silver platter. It boldly means that her achievement is not a mean one in the field of engineering.

The soft spoken Engineer was admitted for her outstanding performance and general contributions to the country.

One of her major contributions was ensuring the communities she worked with had unlimited access to solar energy.

Interestingly enough, of the more than 4,000 registered Engineers in Zambia, Mrs Mulenga becomes one of the few Engineers totaling to only about 200 who have been conferred with the title in the history of EIZ.

She was conferred with the prestigious title at the Avani Hotel in Livingstone where a total of 42 were installed as Engineering Fellows and of the 42 only seven were female Engineers.

Mrs Mulenga holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Electrical and Electronic from the Copperbelt University (CBU), Masters Degree in Power and Renewable energy from Kathmandu University in Nepal and she went on an exchange programme for six months at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Born in Kaoma, Mrs Mulenga is the daughter of an Accountant under the defunct National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD).

However, she was not lucky enough to stay longer with her father since she lost him when she was in her third grade at Mulamatila Primary School.

This meant she had to relocate to Katete in Eastern Province to stay with her Dad’s younger brother who was a Veterinary Doctor.

Veterinary medicine evoked passion in her and she always wanted to be like him, working with communities to alleviate the sufferings of the people since livestock meant a lot to the people of Eastern Province.

In Katete, she had to cope with the Mphangwe atmosphere and chill weather, where now she had to go back to school in Grade 4 at Vulamukoko Primary school.

She was at Vulamukoko till Grade Nine where she passed with flying colours and got selected at St. Monica’s, the only girl school by then in Eastern Province.

Here again, she passed with flying colours which made her apply for admission both at the University of Zambia to do Veterinary Medicine like her father who raised her.

At CBU she applied for Production Management, Urban and Rural Planning plus Business Administration.

But because her results were exceptional, CBU decided to admit her for natural sciences class which she has never regretted.

Later, UNZA accepted her into veterinary medicine but by then she was in her second year at CBU pursuing Engineering.

Currently, Mrs Mulenga is working with Konkola Copper Mines as the Manager Electrical and Instrumentation at Nchanga Concentrator.

Looking ahead, Mrs Mulenga wants more of girl child to get involved in science and technology because modern life revolves around science and technology.

“As a country, we need to invest so much in research and development by starting these research opportunities as early as in primary school.

“Like the 12-year-old Mwangala Maunga who won the Buttercup award in Science and Technology for Inventing the Power Puff. That is the path we must take as a country. There are some researches and development which do not really require money,” she said.

She says her admission as an Engineering Fellow by the EIZ brought a good feel because it shows that her effort is being appreciated and it measures her achievements in the sector.

“My dream is to see more people having access to energy before 2031. Technology and science are practical courses applicable in our everyday life. It will be imperative for girls to venture into technology and science.

“I know our Zambian tradition has a way of looking down on girls imagining they can’t be Engineers. This has impacted negatively on girls in failing to go for male dominated courses,” she said.

Mrs Mulenga who has been working with Peri urban communities in providing solar energy says in her success it is also vital to help other girls to have access to school uniforms so that the girl child does not feel ashamed to be in class.

“We are giving uniforms to three schools and my solar energy project with Peri urban communities continues,” she said.