Bridging the Space Divide: Igniting Capacity Building Conversations

Moderator:
Ms Andiswa Mlisa
Panellists:
Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell
Dr Thandi Mgwebi
Ms Pontsho Maruping
Ms Valerie Matlou
Ms Xoliswa Kakana

Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell

Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell is currently the Managing Director responsible for the Space Science Programme of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). She has held the position of Managing Director for 9 years, prior to which she was a Researcher with a joint position between the previous Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (a national facility of the National Research Foundation, NRF) and Rhodes University. Dr McKinnell holds a PhD in Space Physics from Rhodes University and a MBA from the Business School Netherlands. She has a B3 rating from the South African NRF, extensive international research experience, and has represented SANSA and South Africa on a number of international and national committees in the Space Science and Technology field.

Dr Thandi Mgwebi

Thandi is a research and innovation leader currently serving as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement at Tshwane University of Technology. She holds a PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of Cape Town, a Higher Diploma in Education, a postgraduate degree in Higher Education Management from University of Melbourne, Australia and a certificate in Management Development Programme from the Stellenbosch University Business School. After a postdoctoral research period, she worked at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as an early-career scientist, and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). In 2008, she joined the National Research Foundation as Director for Human Capacity Development and later as Executive Director for DST-NRF Research Chairs Initiative and Centres of Excellence, the national flagship programmes of the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Before joining TUT, she was Professor and Head of Research at the University of the Western Cape.

Ms Andiswa Mlisa

Ms Andiswa Mlisa is the Managing Director of Earth Observation directorate at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Prior to joining SANSA, she was at the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Secretariat, based in Geneva, Switzerland, responsible for the coordination of the AfriGEOSS initiatives and capacity building. A graduate of the Universities of Fort Hare and Stellenbosch in GIS and Remote Sensing, she spent her early career years developing geospatial solutions for water resource management and disaster risk reduction. She aims to use her over 17 years of experience and passion for developing partnerships in earth observations & space applications initiatives to mainstream use of Earth observations for service delivery.

Ms Pontsho Maruping

Ms Maruping is the Head of Commercialisation at at the South african Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), theChair of the South African Council for Space Affairs and the Chair the Scientific and Technical Committee of theUnited Nation’s Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Pontsho’s diverse qualifications include a Masters in Space Systems Engineering from Delft University of Technology, Executive Masters in Business Administration from IMD in Switzerland and Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Management of Technology from UP and Bachelor of Science (Eng.) in Mineral Processingfrom Wits.

She started her career in the mining industry working for De Beers and Anglo American. During South Africa’s transition to democracy, she joined the Department of Science and Technology (DST)keen to contribute to rebuilding the science system. At the DST she led various initiatives including championing the establishment of the South African National Space Agency, establishing a nanotechnology program, Co-chairing the Science and Technology Committee of the Group on Earth Observations and Chairing the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites.

Her passion for technology commercialisation was ignited when she joined the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) as an executive, where she eventually became responsible for a portfolio of more than 160 investments. During her time at TIA, Pontsho introduced a new seed fund targeted at supporting early stage technology ideas at universities and start-ups. Since joining SKA over a year ago, she has introduced an internal entrepreneurship initiative to support employees with innovative ideas on a journey to commercialisation.

Ms Xoliswa Kakana

Xoliswa Kakana founded ICT-Works in 1999 and has served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer since inception, overseeing the company’s operations in South Africa and the rest of the African continent.

An electrical engineer by profession, Kakana has more than 25 years of experience in the Electronics Engineering and ICT sectors, holding positions in many blue-chip technology companies.
Xoliswa is an active contributor to the evolution of the industry and continues to drive the process of transformation in the sector through her involvement in the Women in ICT forum of which she is founder and former chairperson.

Kakana has held several board seats, and she has also been recognized through a number of industry awards. She is currently the Board Chairperson of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA).

A growing number of developing countries are establishing space programmes as a catalyst for improving the quality of life of its citizens and promoting economic growth opportunities. The rationale for an increased focus on space is varied across the domains of Earth observations, space sciences, navigation and positioning, and communications. Such focus generally relate to developing countries wanting to leverage the opportunities that space provides and not wanting to remain dependent on foreign entities for critical data, information and services. However, the capacity gap in most developing countries maintains an ever-widening space divide and mitigates against the achievement of identified goals of developing country space programmes.

The development and accumulation of technical and organisational competencies and capabilities therefore becomes a crucial element in ensuring sustainable space programmes that deliver on their promise. Mechanisms such as technology transfer, exchange programmes for researchers and scientists and strategic partnerships, amongst others, become important drivers for capacity building. Equally important is the role of international organisations, as facilitators of these drivers. This session will explore how technology transfer, exchange programmes and strategic partnerships can be effectively used to build and strengthen capabilities in developing countries.

The aim of this session is to initiate discussions that explore pathways for developing capacity to narrow the space divide by bringing together leading international organisations and developing country space actors.

LIVE STREAM

2019-03-01T13:56:49+02:00