Women in Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning - Stories from Namibia

Date: 12 January 2021
Women in Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning - Stories from Namibia

The following stories from Namibia are extracts from the booklet 'Women in the Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Industry."


I think it important to ensure safe conditions during maintenance, repair, installation and inspection. I also encourage young women to take part in vocational training to update their skills.

I like teamwork because you can gain more skills from others and in the future, you can own a company and create job opportunities for others. I want cooperative education in the field of air conditioning and refrigeration that will challenge and strengthen my education and professional skills.


My name is Foibe Kalenga, and I am a qualified technician with a National Technical Certificate (N3) in Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) that I obtained at the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT). I started my studies in 2010 and finished in 2014. I never had any idea of what RAC entailed until I was deep in the industry. It used to be a big challenge as I very much felt that it was men‘s work. As a result, at some point, I decided to pull out in my second year. However, my mentor and instructor at the NIMT, Mr Karamata, encouraged me by pointing out how advantageous and inspiring it was to be a woman in RAC. He reasoned that nowadays it does not matter who is doing what job as long as it’s done properly.

During and after my studies I worked for two different air-conditioning and refrigeration companies in  Walvis Bay and Swakopmund from 2012 to 2015. These were Atlateck and Walvis Bay Refrigeration, where I was employed as a servicing,  maintenance, installer and designer technician.  That’s where  I  gained more knowledge of basic and advanced refrigeration. I installed freezer rooms, cold rooms and air-conditioning in the bigger projects which I was entrusted with by my manager and managed the whole site and made sure everything was done as he asked.  I am currently working for APM Terminals,  and we are contracted by the biggest shipping line in the world, Maersk, in Walvis Bay. I am employed as a reefer container technician running a department with four other people (men) working under me. We specialize in servicing, maintaining and repairing reefer containers, of which we do more than a hundred a week.

My biggest motivation is my community at large and people in the RAC industry who see more potential in me than I do myself.  When I started my current job I was referred by someone that I met in the industry. He introduced me to APM Terminals management and they didn’t hesitate to take me as I had marketed myself enough not to have to introduce myself from a woman’s perspective. APM Terminals promoted me to department supervisor after four months and sent me for reefer training at Cape Town for two weeks. They continued sending me for training locally, and today I can proudly say that I believe in what I do and I can do what men can do.

  • “My biggest motivation is my community at large and people in the RAC industry who see more potential in me than I do myself.”

I have several roles in my current job, as a departmental supervisor, technician, safety representative, estimator and a mentor to my subordinates.  I am also on standby every other week, as we are only two authorized drivers in the department; sometimes I get a call-out at midnight. It’s not as easy as it seemed, but I committed to taking it. I love working in the RAC industry since it requires one to think and troubleshoot before getting to the problem.  It’s an interesting career as it is mind-challenging.  I  have learnt how sensitive refrigeration systems can be with moisture and dust. I love what I do and am inspired by it.

In  conclusion,  RAC is literally the best industry to work in; it teaches you a lot and there is always something new to learn.


My responsibilities in RAC involve maintenance,  repair,  heating,  ventilation, cooling and fault-finding. I am a qualified technician from a tertiary institution in Namibia.  My weld covers residential, commercial and industrial work.

This field motivated me to work on electrical components such as catering equipment and household appliances. In time I developed professionally and also improved my technical skills through work experience.

I am willing to make a difference through RAC innovation, even though it is a challenge working with heavy items, e.g. carrying units and other heavier material.  Also, the field needs updating every year because of changing material and the phase-out of some gases in the industry.

Find out more on our website about: refrigeration, air conditioning

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