South African National Space Agency (SANSA) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Valanathan Munsami has been appointed as an advisory board member for Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). He becomes the second African on the board after NIGCOMSAT CEO, Ms. Abimbola Alale joined the board in 2018.
About Dr. Munsami
Dr Munsami holds a PhD in Physics and has a research background in Solid State Physics and Space Physics. His research focus was on magnetospheric physics, particularly on the use of artificial intelligence and the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) for the study of magnetic storms. He also holds a Masters degree in Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, a Space Studies Program Diploma from the International Space University, and a Certificate in International Air, Space and Telecommunications Law from the University of Pretoria. In 2002, he joined the Department of Trade and Industry, as Deputy Director, working on issues relating to the non- proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the space sector. In this portfolio he dealt with the import and export of dual-use technologies, relating specifically to nuclear and space technologies. He also provided technical support to the South African Council for Space Affairs.
In 2005, he joined the National Research Foundation, as a Manager, responsible for implementing South Africa’s international science and technology partnerships. He oversaw the implementation of South Africa’s bilateral science and technology agreements, the management of South Africa’s membership to a number of science and technology multilateral fora, and oversight of the South African chapter of the International Scientific Union (ICSU). In 2007, he joined the Department of Science and Technology as Director (and was later promoted to Chief Director) for Space Science and Technology, where he was involved in the development of South Africa’s National Space Strategy and National Space Policy and oversaw the establishment of SANSA.
Within the same institution, he was promoted to Deputy Director- General: Research, Development and Innovation, where he was responsible for Space Science, Radio Astronomy, Biotechnology and Health, Hydrogen and Energy, and Innovations Instruments, which included oversight of SANSA, the Technology Innovation Agency and the National Intellectual Property Management Office. On winning the bid to co-host the SKA in 2012, he then became the Chief Specialist for Astronomy and African Space Science. In this role, he led the development of South Africa’s Multi-Wavelength Astronomy Strategy and the SKA Readiness Strategy. He also chaired the African Union Space Working Group, which was tasked with the development of the African Space Policy and the African Space Strategy that was approved by the African Union Heads of State in January 2016. These strategies have now laid the foundation for the African space programme.
In January 2017, he was been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of SANSA. As CEO, he is responsible for the development and implementation of appropriate strategies for the Agency and developing and maintaining effective management teams and management processes that enable the Agency and the local space sector to function optimally. He is currently a member of the South African Council for Space Affairs (SACSA) and is a Vice President of the International Astronautic Federation (IAF) for Developing Countries and Emerging Nations. He has also been recently inducted as an academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
SGAC is a global non-governmental organization and network, which aims to represent University students and Young Space professionals to the United Nations, space agencies, industry and academia. SGAC was established as one of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) held in Vienna in 1999. SGAC has Permanent Observer Status in the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) and regularly present at its annual meeting and its two subcommittee’s meetings.