African Space Industry Top 10 Under 30 – Class 2020

The African space ecosystem continues to grow massively, especially in terms of technical know-how and expertise. The ecosystem is enjoying favourable contributions from governments and private companies, who continue to invest in academic institutions, researches, agencies and programs that enhance the advancement of the industry. As the industry grows, so does its youth population, in terms of their contribution to the sector. In 2019, we started the Top 10 under 30 series to spotlight the profiles of the top 10 innovators, engineers, researchers, writers, and contributors to the Africa space industry. In 2020, having gone through a thorough selection process, we are once again presenting Africa’s top 10 under 30 in the Africa space industry. These young people continue to display outstanding courage and contributions to the industry, reminding us at all times that Africa is ready to take a place in the global space market. Meet the Class of 2020 for the African Space Industry Top 10 Under-30 Award:


Angola (28)
Bevania Martins has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Applications from Punjab College of Technical Education under the Punjab Technical University in India and is a member of the Space Generation Advisory Council of the United Nations. After her studies in India, she started working at the Angolan Space Program National Office as a Senior Specialist for Ground Control Segment responsible for satellite communication signal, monitoring Radio Frequency equipment and performing the scheduled maintenance of such equipment. While working for the Angolan Space Program she took part in the team responsible for establishing an Angolan Space Education program. Bevania is currently finishing her Master’s in Space Applications and Service at the Institut supérieur de l'aéronautique et de l'espace (ISAE-Supaero), in Toulouse. She recently founded a space startup focused on redefining space outfits. Bevania is working with a group of young Africans to develop African Cubesat that aims at providing capacity building programs, workshops, tools and techniques towards launching a Cubesat that has the collaboration of all African countries.

Ernest Matey

Ghana (30)
Ernest Teye Matey is part of the trio that built and launched Ghana's first satellite, GhanaSat-1. He is a co-founder and outreach manager of the All Nations University - Space Systems Technology Laboratory (ANU-SSTL) responsible for the development of the GhanaSat-1. He is also the Site Manager for the NASA Aerosol Robotic Network ( AERONET) located in Koforidua, Ghana. Currently, He is the National Point of Contact to Ghana for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in support of the United Nations Program for Space Applications. He is a facilitator for the ongoing African Constellation Satellite Project ( AFCONSAT). Ernest Teye Matey has a Master's degree in Applied Science for Integrated Systems Engineering from the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT). With the support of All Nations University, he has organized Space and STEM education programs that reached more than 7,000 students, involving over 50 different high schools from over 30 different districts in Ghana. He also plays a role as a mentor at the National Science and Maths Quiz Competition in Ghana. Ernest has been working on a proposal through the Ministry of Communication to use Space Science and Satellite Technology to extend practical STEM education to all constituencies in Ghana. His career orientation is Space Mission Analysis/ Design and Radio Communication. At his leisure, he reads. He believes he has a voice to the world like his mentor Dr Samuel Donkor, President of All Nations University. Koforidua. Ghana.

Iliass Tanouti

Morocco (23)
Iliass Tanouti is a space systems engineer with acquired knowledge in space entrepreneurship and space policy. Iliass graduated in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Manchester as a top-five student. He published his first research on space debris mitigation at the age of 21 while working for Thales Alenia’s Advanced Concepts team. At Thales, he developed space mission analysis and systems engineering models for several ESA and UKSA projects. Iliass is currently completing a Master of Space Studies at the International Space University (ISU) while working on a Stealth Start-Up as a Systems Engineer. Iliass is conducting a study on an Earth Observation CubeSat Constellation to address the Sustainable Development Goals in the continent, which he will present at IAC 2020. Other projects Iliass led or took part in are: “A study on ChipSat technology”, which will also be presented at IAC 2020, Organizing and moderating a panel on African Space Policy named "NewSpace is the NewAfrica”, and organizing an event on social justice debates with topics such as “Space Neo-colonialism in Developing Regions” and “BLM: Politics, Groups and Identities in the Global and African Space Industry”. Furthermore, he is working with ISU to strengthen relations and collaborations with organizations and individuals in African countries. Iliass was recently appointed as African Regional Coordinator for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). Since then, he has started several initiatives for Africa to use space as a tool to achieve sustainability and educate the younger generations. Ilias’s long-term objective is to develop the first pan-African Earth Observation constellation, leveraging on Africa’s youth.

Imane El Khantouti

Morocco (23)
Imane El Khantouti is currently finalising her Aerospace engineering degree at the International University of Rabat (UIR). Imane has been actively involved in STEM since her second year in high school, after attending a STEM camp program in the IVY Tech community college, Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has played an organising role for Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries on the SGAC-IAF youth workshop. She is currently working as a project manager and systems engineer in Centre Spatiale Universitaire de Grenoble, France where she leads a group of engineering students in the making and specialization of a communication payload. El Khantouti is highly interested in the use of the space industry and its applications in developing emerging markets globally and in Africa. As a National Point of Contact for SGAC in Morocco, she has attended a UN COPUOS scientific sub-committee. She is actively participating in studies of the African space market and commercialisation, she submitted a paper on the subject for the 69th edition of the International Astronautical Congress.

Johan Du Plooy

South Africa (29)
Johan is a mechanical engineer and business developer with a background in optomechanical structural design and analysis. Having obtained his mechanical engineering degree at the University of Stellenbosch, Johan joined the Simera team. He has contributed to 3 Optical Payloads in varying roles, all of which are orbiting the earth currently. He has contributed to technical development, design, analysis, and integration of space-bound optical payloads over the last 6.5 years. His technical knowledge, combined with his industry knowledge enables him to engage new business development opportunities, identify new clients and explore collaborative efforts that allow Simera Sense to grow its footprint in the CubeSat optical payload market. Despite working on the business disposition of the organization, he is actively involved with the technical development of new products, specifically focused on cutting edge optomechanical designs that meet the demanding requirements set by the harsh low earth orbit environment. Johan recently completed an MBA essentials course at the University of Stellenbosch Business School to allow for greater fusion of his passion for the development of space-bound optomechanical systems and commercialization.

Kai Broughton

South Africa (27)
Kai Broughton graduated with a BSc Eng (summa cum laude) and MSc Eng (cum laude) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). He received 1st prize for his final year project, the best 4th-year student award, and the prestigious Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) Merit Medal, among other awards. His Master’s project involved the development of the Phoenix-1B Mk II hybrid sounding rocket, focussing on the rocket motor design and testing, culminating in a launch test in February 2019. He is currently working as a propulsion engineer for the Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG) at UKZN. His efforts working on liquid propulsion systems and static test facilities are key to laying the foundation for an indigenous orbital launch capability. He is also working on ignition systems and the development of an additively manufactured, regeneratively cooled thrust chamber. Kai is also working part-time as the Lead Engineer for the Phoenix-1B hybrid sounding rocket project, developing and upgrading two sounding rockets to be launched by the end of 2020. The rocket launches will prove technology and operations required for a commercial workhorse sounding rocket, which will be used to commission a new sounding rocket launch facility in South Africa. Kai’s vision is to see satellites being launched from African soil to accelerate local space technology development and realisation of their benefits for Africa.

Lidya Elias

Ethiopia (24)
Lidya Elias is an aerospace engineer. She completed her Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) in Aeronautical Engineering at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. During this period, she interned at Ethiopian Airlines. After graduation, she worked as a researcher at the Space Engineering department of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, where she was part of the team that developed the first microsatellite launched in December 2019. She contributed to the development of Ethiopia’s First National Space policy. She has completed two satellite training programs in China and Russia. She is currently pursuing an online MBA with the University of South Wales, UK. Lidya has played important roles in multiple projects involving the development of Cube Satellites and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Ethiopia. She worked on the Altitude Control System of Cube Satellite, while also designing the structural and communication systems of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). As a researcher, she was able to recognize the gap in designing the drones and have published two journal articles relating to composite materials and structural analysis of satellites. These materials were made of recyclable banana fibres instead of the ordinary carbon fibres. She recently got a certification in drone technology from the first cohort of African Drone and Data Academy, supported by UNICEF and Virginia Tech, becoming the first Ethiopian woman to receive this achievement. She is working as a technical manager in partnership with a German company to build the first airUTM, Unmanned aerial vehicles traffic Management. airUTM has been offered a contract award from the European Space Agency. This project is going to take place in Malawi, in collaboration with UNICEF, GIZ, Wingcopter and DCA.

Marco Romero

Angola (29)
Marco Romero is an Aeronautical Engineer. He is certified on the “Moon of the Solar System” by the UK Open University and on “Mars Surviving Principles” by Malaysia’s Monash University. He also has a certification on GIS and Remote Sensing from TOPGIS and from University of Luxemburg Competence Centre. He received the Copernicus Certification for data usage, public policy, products and services development from PWC. He recently enrolled for the Advanced Master of Space System Engineering at ISAE Supaero. He participated in the construction of the first Angolan Satellite and has served in the Project Management Department of GGPEN. He supported the development of a Space Education and Outreach Program in Angola that was expanded through Africa through videos and comic books and Pico Satellites. He expanded his career to the Angolan Space Program as a specialist in Ballistic Navigation and Support for Satellite Operations at the Funda’s Mission and Control Centre. He currently works at Airbus Defence and Space. He started an observation mission at the French Aerospace Valley working on the NanoStar, UFO and Gallatea European programs, learning how to develop a strategy to implement a sustainable Newspace Ecosystem in African countries regardless of their space development stage. He has created several hackathons, conferences, incubations, challenges, studies, projects, research Articles and other activities in Angola and joined similar activities in other countries. In the last four years, he has developed and consolidated 6 Startups that contribute to the development of the Aerospace Sector in Africa. He is the National Point of Contact for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) participating in 5 Project Groups, as well as National Outreach Coordinator of the International Astronomical Union in Angola, International Space Station Ambassador, Responsible for the “Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS)” Angolan chapter and World Economic Forum Global Shapers member at the Luanda HUB. He is a member of several international communities and space activities.


Nigeria (23)
NellyHelen Ebruka (23) is an elected prospective member of the international institute of space law and a final year law student of the University of calabar, Nigeria, interested in space law and regulation. She was the pioneer President of the International Law student Association (ILSA), University of Calabar. Nelly also served as the founding chairperson of the University’s space law club and organised local space law moots for students amongst other fields of international law. She was the Team Leader for the university of Calabar representatives at the 8th Regional rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space law Competition, held in Pretoria. The team won the competition with Nelly meriting the award of best orator for the rounds.They further represented Africa at the global finals of the competition and ended as first runner-up of the competition. In 2020, she coached the University of Calabar team to emerge as runners up for the 9th regional rounds of the competition that was judged solely by written submissions. Her passion for space inspired her to co-found the Learnspace foundation, a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting space education and awareness in Nigeria and Africa at large. Nelly attended and presented a paper at the last African Space leadership conference that was held in December last year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a Scholarship Awardee of the African Union and was a member of the African space youth Forum for the conference. Currently, she is a member of the Spacehub Team, an organisation that is building the African space ecosystem and provides a platform for Africans to get involved in space. Always willing to learn more and collaborate,she is a mentee under the UN space for Women mentorship program and also an enthusiastic volunteer of the space generation advisory council.

Rosca de Waal

South Africa (28)
Rosca de Waal obtained his Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch in 2016. He joined Simera in 2017 as an optomechanical design and AIT engineer; designing and building all in-house assembly and test equipment used to produce space borne optical payloads; as well as the assembly, integration, and testing (AIT) of these earth observation spaceborne optical payloads. In 2018 he became the Simera Sense team as the Lead AIT Optomechanical Engineer, assisting with the development and design of nanosatellite earth observation optical payloads; leading the assembly, integration and testing division for all optical payloads developed; overseeing the design of integration and test equipment; transferring knowledge to other team members and providing training in this domain to both Simera and client personnel. To date, Rosca has been involved with the AIT of eight earth observation satellite payloads in Africa and across the world, of which three were launched in 2018, and the other five scheduled to be launched within the next 2 years. He has a passion for the space industry and strives to continually advance his knowledge in the industry through research and workshops, such as the ESA (European Space Agency) Workshop on Innovative Technologies for Space Optics in Noordwijk that he attended in 2019.