The African space ecosystem continues to enjoy tremendous growth in terms of technical know-how and innovation. Governments, private companies and international bodies have continued to invest in academic institutions, research and programs that advance the industry in Africa.
Africa has the highest youth population in the world, and the industry grows because African youths keep contributing innovative, groundbreaking ideas that have kept Africa evolving. Since 2019, when we started the Top 10 under 30 series, we spotlight the profiles of the top 10 innovators, engineers, researchers, writers, and contributors to the Africa space industry.
Here we are again in 2021. This year, having gone through a rigorous selection process, we are once again presenting Africa’s top 10 under 30 in the African space industry. These young people continue to display outstanding courage and remarkable contributions to the industry, reminding us at all times that Africa is ready to take a place in the global space market.
Mohamed Ramzi Aouimeur is currently pursuing an MSc in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Austria. He has a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering, specifically Avionics, from the Institute of Aeronautics and Space Studies at the University of Saad Dahleb Blida 1, Algeria. Mohamed is an intern in Project Management at Rocket Factory Augsburg, Germany and is a project manager for the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt’s rocketry project, FHWN EXPLORE for Spaceport America Cup 2022. In addition, he worked as a Systems Engineer on the new eVTOL concept of the Trogon project in collaboration with Diamond Aircraft as part of his university’s junior team project. In November 2020, Mohamed joined the Space Generation Advisory Council as its African Regional Communications Manager. Mohamed was the organiser of the first ActinSpace Challenge in Algeria powered by ESA, CNES, and Aerospace Valley and was the former project manager for the Blida Rocketry team, where he was responsible for rocket projects and educational outreach programs over his two-year term.
Oluwnifemi is an Erin J.C Arsenault Fellow currently undertaking her Master of Law program in Air and Space Law at McGill University. Her research at McGill focuses on the role of law in propelling African States to exploit space applications for Africa’s socio-economic development. Oluwanifemi is a high achiever and multiple award winner who has received various scholarships and awards for her program at McGill. In recognition of her academic excellence, she was awarded the Setsuko Ushioda-Aoki Prize by the Faculty of Law, McGill University. She is a researcher and volunteer whose work aims to contribute to the development of space law and policy in Africa. She volunteers her time with organisations and programs geared towards Africa’s space policy and the development of the next generation of aerospace practitioners in Africa.
Oluwanifemi is the Project Assistant for Legal Initiatives of the Arizona State University Space Advisory Project and the Secretary-General of the African Air and Space Law Association in Paris. She is a trailblazing space talent who exemplifies stellar teamwork abilities, a keen eye for detail, and an action-oriented mindset to make significant contributions to the development of the African space industry.
Ahmed is a clinical pharmacist and part-time hospital manager at Dr Ahmed Abdul Aziz hospital, Alexandria, Egypt, and a teaching associate in the space sciences department at the International Space University (ISU). Ahmed is doing his master's degree in biotechnology, and he is highly interested in genetics, neuroscience, space neuroscience, and space sciences. Currently, Ahmed is serving as the regional coordinator for the Middle East for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and is a former regional communications manager for the Middle East. In addition, he is a member of the IAF Space Life Sciences Committee, the chair of the International Outreach Committee for the Aerospace Medicine Student & Resident Organization (AMSRO), and the founder and president of the AMSRO regional chapter in Alexandria, Egypt.
Additionally, Ahmed is working on some projects primarily dedicated to space medicine and human space exploration, such as the space medicine program for Egypt in coordination with the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA) and the French Space Agency (CNES), building the first Mars/Moon analogue station in the Western Desert of Egypt in coordination with EgSA and the Austrian Space Forum, and a roadmap to enable Africa to have sustainable human spaceflights by 2030. In 2019, he received the African Space Leaders Award from the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) to recognise these efforts.
The United Nations Office appointed Hansley for Outer Space Affairs to work as a director in a programme management role. Hansley Noruthun is leading in terms of innovation, creativity, and self-starter in the space field. He is a bioscientist, the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) National Point of Contact (NPoC) for Mauritius and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Emerging Space Leader for the Republic of Mauritius.
In 2015, Hansley became the first Mauritian to be awarded a joint scholarship to complete a space program by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center. In addition, he has been involved in several space-related projects, including astronaut training, commercial airline travel study, BBC stargazing partner, and several global outreach and awareness programmes such as the African Space Generation Workshop - Launching Africa: Space Exploration, Innovation and Business.
Space is an inspiration for him. He is currently tackling global issues using novel approaches by applying space and science applications to address the participation of emerging and developing countries in the sector. Furthermore, Halsey campaigns for the Sustainable Development Goals; he has made it his goal to advocate for quality education, socio-economic growth and addressing global challenges using innovative approaches (earth observation, disaster management, blue economy, and climate change).
Tafadzwa Banga is the founder of the Young Inventors organisation at the National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe, where he is studying Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. In 2018 he led the Zimbabwean team represented by students from Young Inventors to win a regional hackathon competition that the University of Oxford and NEPAD SANBIO organised in South Africa.
He has been an active member of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space since 2018, and he served as the national chairperson and the president of the SEDS NUST Chapter. Tafadzwa is also the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) National Point of Contact (NPoC) for Zimbabwe, as he joined SGAC in 2019. Tafadzwa’s passion for space made him lead a group of engineering students t0 SEDS Zimbabwe on the 10th of October 2020. His team was able to launch a student-designed electronic payload in near space using a high-altitude balloon. It was the first space-related project for Zimbabwe. The launch made a significant impact in the awareness of space education and breast cancer.
Tafadzwa was part of the UN 4th Africa Space Generation Workshop organising team and one of the delegates who attended the workshop in Ghana. His resilience and dedication helped him get a scholarship to participate in the MMAARS IN-PERSON ANALOGUE ASTRONAUT TRAINING MISSION at MAARSBASE basecamp in Mojave Desert, California, USA. As part of the keynote speakers for the Global Space Summit 2021 organised by SDNx Foundation and Helium Learning Labs, he joined the global stage. He is keen to see the sustainable development of his country and the rest of Africa through the active engagement of youths and young professionals in space exploration and science.
Tensae got interested in the concept of space science and engineering from a young age. He is a final-year Mechanical Engineering student at Mekelle University, Ethiopia and a member of the executive committee for the Mekelle Branch of the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS). He is currently working with the SGAC Regional and Local Events Coordination Team and serves as Ethiopia’s National point of contact. In 2019, Tensae led the local organising Team at the 3rd African Space Generation Workshop held in Addis Ababa. More, he has done outreach activities in other major cities of the country. Tensae has been engaged with ESSS since 2012 and joined the SGAC in 2013. Furthermore, he has been a functioning member of the Ethiopian Institute of Technology-Mekelle Council (EiT-M) since September 2018 as a students’ representative for academic affairs. He completed a prestigious summer aviation technology training under the auspices of the Presidency of Turkey and the organisation of Yunus Emre Enstitüsü and TABiP. In September 2020, he earned his dual honours degree through a joint program of Mekelle University and Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, Belgium, which covered a unique curriculum called Moonshot-Ethiopia. Most recently, Tensae was one of the five recipients of the Global Grants Programme through SGAC. He is currently working on a satellite-based crop yield and health monitoring system with the Space Technology for Earth Applications (STEA) at SGAC. He believes in the virtue of the mind, hard work, communication, and collaboration for a better future.
Atanilson Tucker Cachinjumba is an aerospace engineer. He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He also graduated from African Drone and Data Academy, a UNICEF-sponsored academy operated by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, U.S.A and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Malawi. He is a Level 1 TOP (Trusted Operator Program) Operator certified by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. He has participated in flight laboratory courses given by the National Flying Laboratory Centre in the United Kingdom. Also, Atanilson has experience with image processing and GIS from participating in a course offered by Thales Alenia Space. Furthermore, Atanilson participated in SADC capacity building activities given by ITU for SADC member states. He joined the Angolan Aerospace Management Office in 2019, where he was part of the DCEPA (space science and applied researcher department), studying mainly earth observation satellites and their application. He participated in projects such as the application of GIS and remote sensing to help to reduce the effect of drought in Angola through drought severity map creation, GIS website and early warning system. In 2020 he joined the space application department, which pioneers the Earth Observation System (SOT) project in Angola. In the department of space application, he participated in developing a GIS application for urban planning intended to help the government better organise the cities through mapping infrastructure, land use, change detection, etc. Other projects include the use of satellite image and machine learning algorithms, GPS technology and GIS for precision agriculture, and the use of SAR (Synthetic-aperture radar) satellite to map oil spills. Atanilson contributes to the academy by being one of the instructors in the student scientific group of space communication of the INSTIC (Institute of Information Technology and Communication).
Mina Takla is the Co-founder & CEO of CosmoX, Inc., a privately-held US Aerospace/Defense corporation in Delaware. CosmoX is an early-stage startup that ensures the space domain’s safety, security, and sustainability while contributing to a circular in-space economy. Mina holds a BSc in Rocket Complexes and Astronautical Engineering from Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University) and is an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. He is working towards his MSc in Satellite Technology - Advanced Space Systems from the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg. He contributed to public awareness and capacity-building activities in a volunteering capacity as a National Coordinator at the Moon Village Association, the Programme Lead for SG[Egypt], and a member of the partnerships and programs team for the World Space Week Association. In addition, Mina recently helped build and implement a National Lunar exploration roadmap for Egypt, supported by the Egyptian Space Agency, as part of the MVA Participation of Emerging Space Countries project.
In his capacity as SGAC’s National Point of Contact for Egypt, he coordinated various SGAC projects, events, and activities as an active member of the Space Exploration Project Group, including space outreach and crowdfunding for PMAS 2017, CapCom support for analogue planetary missions (MARS Expedition 0, DESTINY Mission), ESA Moon Challenge, and IASC asteroid discovery and PDC disaster response. In addition, Mina is eager to address complex, multidimensional, and interdisciplinary problems facing the space industry through his contributions to several publications at the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) because he has a keen interest in the latest developments in the industry.
Alimamy Lewis Seray Conteh is a final year student pursuing a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Degree (Honours) at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He currently serves as the National Point of Contact for Sierra Leone for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), National Outreach Coordinator for Sierra Leone at the Office of Astronomy Outreach, International Astronomical Union, National Coordinator Moon Village Association and also the co-founder and the Executive Director of STEAD Society. In addition, Alimamy was the African Union Commission Youth Scholarship award winner for the 8th African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology. He served as a PR and Communications team member for the 4th African Space Generation Workshop in Ghana. He is also part of the delegates organising team for the 19th Space Generation Congress in Dubai. He has worked extensively with STEM enthusiasts worldwide to help raise awareness for space science and astronomy in Sierra Leone and introduce a space science and astronomy program in his country. Alimamy recently organised the 1st Space Science and Astronomy Symposium and Competition, the first-ever space activity in Sierra Leone, which was put together to interact and proffer solutions to help collectively inspire and stimulate interest in space science and STEM. He also organised a space workshop with Open Cosmos UK on Space Mission Design and Analysis. He's pioneering a solid group to promote and disseminate the benefits of satellite communications and technology to make Sierra Leone one of the African countries that will popularise the technology and use it in all facets of their development. He has a firm conviction that we all have our part to play for the development of the African continent. Alimamy chooses to invest in the promotion of space issues and innovation via space technologies in Africa.
Bethelhem Girma is an Assistant Researcher at Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, where she researches and works on various engineering projects. She graduated from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 2020. After graduation, she moved back to Ethiopia, and she is currently working on UAV design and development under the Space Engineering Research and Development Directorate. She is also a Club Coordinator at the Ethio Space Kids Club.