Meet the top 13 women in the African Space Industry

In celebration of the International Women’s Day; “Space in Africa” has compiled a list of 13 amazing women who are driving the African Space Industry. The list features Engineers, Scientists, Policy Makers and Advocates.

We hope this list inspires a generation of women in SPACE.

1. ABIMBOLA ALALE (NIGERIA) is the only female boss of a major satellite company in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. She is the head of Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited and also has 10 children, nine of whom are adopted. Abimbola Alale became the Ag MD/CE in February 2014, having served as the Executive Director, Marketing, a position she held since the inception of the company in 2006. She holds a postgraduate degree in Space Studies and an MBA from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France and has since undergone several trainings in space technology. Alale started her career with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) where she served as NigComSat-1 Project Secretary, a project that gave birth to NIGCOMSAT Ltd. This African space Amazon has served in various capacities on various national committees that have advanced the utilization of space applications in Nigeria. In February 2014, the former President Goodluck Jonathan approved the appointment of Abimbola Alale as the Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Ltd, the nation’s space satellite company.

2. CARLE SHARPE (SOUTH AFRICA) has an MBA from the International Space University and is currently working on her PhD in Space Studies at the University of Cape Town. She is a founder of the South African Space Association and currently serves on the Management Committee of both the Association and Women in Aerospace Africa. Ms. Sharpe is also responsible for Business Development at Africa’s largest Science undertaking the Square Kilometre Array (

3. LULU MAKAPELA (SOUTH AFRICA) was named one of the Young Space Leaders of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in 2015. She is the CSIR’s representative on the South African Council for Space Affairs and holds the position of Project and Contract Manager: Aerospace and Composites at the CSIR. She is also the co-chair of the Africa Leadership Youth Forum, which promotes space science among African young professionals and students. In 2012, she served as a member of the IAF’s International Project Management Committee and organiser for the Youth plenary, which seeks to look at ways to better develop and empower the next generation of aerospace enthusiasts. As a young professional in space, Makapela has shown her commitment and dedication to contribute in space science and technology and international cooperation in different ways. In 2013, she was appointed to serve as a Member of the South African Council for Space affairs (SACSA), a space regulatory body responsible for the regulation of space activities and serves as the Chair of the committee responsible to review the national space legislation. With a passion to attract the Africa youth to consider undertaking space science and legal related careers, she serves as a Member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and is the Africa Regional Co-ordinator for the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court competition which is held annually on the Africa Continent. Makapela previously worked as project manager of the National Earth Observations and Space Secretariat, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology hosted at the CSIR.

4. TIMIEBI AGANABA-JEANTY  (NIGERIA)  is a post-doctoral fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program. She is examining the governance structures addressing global commons environmental issues. Timiebi’s research focus on the role of technology solutions and analyse the evolving legal principles that is required to regulate the use of emerging and high technologies in the fight against climate change.

Prior to joining CIGI, Timiebi was executive director of the World Space Week Association (WSWA), coordinating the global response to the UN declaration that World Space Week should be celebrated annually from October 4 to 10. For her work at the WSWA she received an International Astronautical Federation’s Young Space Leaders 2017 Award. She was also a space policy consultant with the Montreal-based consultancy Euroconsult, and a legal and international cooperation officer at the Nigerian Space Research and Development Agency. Timiebi is called to the Nigerian Bar.

Timiebi holds a D.CL. and an LL.M. in aviation and space law from McGill University. Her doctoral research was focused on the concept of “common benefit” and received the George S. and Ann K. Robinson Space Law Prize for exhibiting advanced research capabilities and original contribution to space jurisprudence. She has a M.Sc. in space management from the International Space University, Strasbourg, France, and an LL.B. from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

5. DR. NANA AMA BROWNE KLUSTE (GHANA) is a Research Scientist at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission where she is the Manager of the Remote Sensing GIS and Climate Centre at the Institute. She has physics background and holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her area of specialization is climatology and her present research focuses on climate modelling and climate impact assessments on society (i.e., health, energy, environment, and gender).

She has experience with space technology applications in various sector developments. She coordinates space science and astronomy outreach programs at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute. She is currently the managing director of the Ghanasat Ltd overseeing the satellite applications and services in Ghana.

She has worked on both national and international projects and consultancies including the climate and Health project in Ghana and the ongoing global CORDEX experiment. She has been recognized with several awards at the international and national levels. She has co-authored a good number of journal article publications and academic books to her credit.

She is competent in programming languages like R and FORTRAN. She teaches Physics and related subjects; supervise students’ research and serves as an external examiner for universities in Ghana and Nigeria. She dedicates her life for community services, mentors young men and women for education pursuits, self-confidence and self-motivation.

At her spare time, she spends time with children who have learning disabilities leading to her co-founding an NGO called the campaign for children with learning disabilities.

6. SUSAN MURABANA (KENYA) is the co-founder of the Traveling Telescope, The Travelling Telescope is dedicated to promoting science and technology using astronomy. Her experience with educational outreach gave birth to traveling telescope. She has inspired thousands of students across Africa; raising a new generation of space leaders.


7. JESSIE NDABA (SOUTH AFRICA) is the Space Solutions Manager at Space Commercial Services and a Programme Manager at Astrofica Technologies, South Africa. She has a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Witwaterstrand, South Africa and an Alumnus of International Space University. She was formerly an Engineer at Sunspace and Information System. She is today one of South Africa’s first female rocket scientists.

8. MINOO RATHNASABAPATHY (SOUTH AFRICA) served as the Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a global non-governmental organization which acts in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, based in Vienna, Austria. Ms. Rathnasabapathy was responsible for leading the operations, business development, strategy, and policy output for SGAC, a network that represents over 10,000 university students and young professionals in 110+ countries.

Before joining SGAC, Ms. Rathnasabapathy worked as an Aerospace Engineer on the structural design optimization for the ARIANE 5 launch system in Augsburg, Germany. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and is currently completing her PhD in Aerospace Engineering. Her doctoral thesis investigates the impact dynamics of novel materials used in aerospace structures.

Ms. Rathnasabapathy serves as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Space Technology and the Generation-Next Advisory Board for Via Satellite. Besides her interest in the space sector, Minoo enjoys hiking, bungee-jumping, and has a black belt in Shotokan Karate.

9. MARGARET IKAPE (NIGERIA) is a student of University of Toronto studying astrophysics. She has previously studied at the African Institute for Mathematical sciences, Cameroon and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She is inspiring Astronomy in Africa through the West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers, a program started three years ago by UofT’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics with a goal to expose young Africans to the field of astronomy

10. RAYAN IMAM (SUDAN) is a Lecturer and Researcher at University of Khartoum, Sudan and the Lead Researcher of the Cubesat project at the University. She teaches Electronics at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and started research on satellites with her Bachelor degree graduation project which was on cubesat operations.

She has a Master degree in Space Technology and Planetary Exploration at University of Surrey, United Kingdom and has been SGAC NPoC for Sudan since 2016

11. FUNMI ERINFOLAMI (NIGERIA) is an Alumnus of International Space University, she is a scientific officer at the African Regional Centre for Soace Science and Technology Education in English. A former SGAC NPoC for Nigeria, she is passionate about space education and outreach.

12. MARYANNE MURIUKI (KENYA) is trained in Disaster Management and International Diplomacy. She works as a disaster management officer for ILICIT Africa and serve as the Kenyan NPoC  for Space Generation Advisory Council since December 2016. She is the Project Co-Lead for SGAC’s Space Technologies for Disaster Management (STDM) and have been actively involved in promoting Space Science and technology in Africa through the SGAC activities. In 2017, she received the SGAC leadership Award.

13.BEZA TESFAYE (ETHIOPIA) has a Bsc. Degree in Global Studies and International Relation and Advance Diploma in computer science. Currently, she is a post graduate student of Computer Science at HiLCoE school of Computer Science and Technology Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She has a great passion for space science, Astronomy and Space related technologies.

Beza has been an active member of the Ethiopian Space Science Society since 2004, actively participating in space science outreach events and education programs in her country. She has also organized events like World Space Week and Yuri’s Night World space party.

She joined SGAC in 2010 and became NPoC of Ethiopia. Since then, she has been actively working and participating in her country space related activities. She was part of the SGC 2013 organizing team and worked as Logistic coordinator. In 2013, she received the SGAC Leadership award to attend SGC 2013 in Beijing, China. At the congress, she participated in SGAC Earth Observation working group.