SANSA Senior Management team

The SANSA Senior Management team comprises of the following individuals:

  • VMunsami
    Dr Val Munsami
  • BPono
    Ms Bulelwa Pono
  • JOlwoch
    Dr Jane Olwoch
  • RHodges
    Mr Raoul Hodges
  • LMcKinnell
    Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell

CEO, Dr Valanathan Munsami

Dr Valanathan Munsami was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) on 3 January 2017. Dr Munsami has held a number of positions within the Department of Science and Technology, with the latest position held being the Chief Science and Technology Representative of the Department of Science and Technology since February 2016. Dr Munsami has a clear understanding of the space industry and has engaged with SANSA on a number of occasions. Among Dr Munsami's achievements, he was involved in the Strategy and Policy development for the South African national space programme. Dr Munsami currently Chairs the African Union Space Working Group, which developed the African Space Policy and Strategy that was approved by the African Heads of State in January this year. As the Chief Specialist for Astronomy, during his employment at the Department of Science and Technology, Dr Munsami was involved in the development of a National Multi-Wavelength Astronomy Strategy and the SKA Readiness Strategy.

Dr Munsami's academic background includes a BSc in Physics & Mathematics, BSc Honours in Physics, and a PhD in Physics from the University of KwaZulu Natal. Dr Munsami has completed a Program in Business Leadership (PBL) and subsequently obtained his Masters in Business Leadership (MBL) through the University of South Africa.

Executive Director: Corporate Services, Acting in the position is Mr Ikho Tshweza

Chief Financial Officer, Ms Bulelwa Pono

Executive Director: Space programme, Mr Amal Khatri

Mr Khatri joined SANSA in July 2015 from his previous employment at Eskom as Chief Advisor Research and Operations / Research Strategy Manager – Research Testing and Development. He has been with Eskom since 1999 and holds an impressive academic record in BSc (Hons) Electrical Engineering, MEng Electrical Engineering and an MBA. Amal has held numerous roles during his tenure at Eskom, ranging from Telecoms Contracts Manager, Electricity Delivery System Support Manager – Distribution to Chief Advisor Research and Operations / Research Strategy Manager. 

Managing Director: SANSA Earth Observation, Dr Jane Olwoch

Dr Olwoch is a climate change impacts specialist with a background in biology and vector ecology. She holds a PhD from the University of Pretoria, an MSc from the Medical University of Southern Africa (University of Limpopo, MEDUNSA campus) and a BSc from Makerere University and an MBA from the Netherlands Business School.  A South African of Rwandan decent, she holds a C2-rating from the NRF.  In her current role she provides the Directorate’s Strategic Direction and ensures its alignment to national priorities and international trends. She also leads regional and international collaboration with other space agencies and earth observation institutions in data access, sharing and application development. Through these collaborations, SANSA’s sensor portfolio has grown and now includes new datasets from SPOT6 &7, Landsat 8 and CBERS-4.  She led negotiations and subsequent finalization of a single multiuser national license with Airbus Space and defence systems (ADS) to enable the country receive SPO 6 & 7. Currently she is the Chair of the Working Group on Capacity Development and Data Democracy of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS).

Prior to joining SANSA, she was the coordinator of Environmental Science undergraduate degree program and the manager of the postgraduate degree in Environment and Society at the University of Pretoria. She has over 20 years’ experience in training in higher institutions of learning and 15 years’ experience in research on the impacts of climate change on natural and societal systems including their adaptation with particular attention on climate change and vector-borne diseases. Through the combined training experience and research expertise, she has proven research and training experience and skills demonstrated by several publications in peer review national and international journals. She has supervised to completion over 30 Honours and Masters and PhD students. On the National level she serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Southern Africa Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) and a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Geo-information Science at the University of Pretoria. Internationally, she is a Lead Author of Chapter 11, IPCC Human Health, of the working group 2 to IPCC, fifth Assessment Report (2010-2014).

Managing Director: SANSA Space Operations, Mr Raoul Hodges

Raoul Hodges is the Managing Director of SANSA Space Operations, Hartebeeshoek (Previously the CSIR Satellite Application Centre).
He has been responsible for the operational management of the Telemetry, Tracking & Command [TT&C] as well as the Earth Observation Centre at Hartebeeshoek. He started his career at Hartebeeshoek in 1987 and has been involved with Space ever since. During this period he project managed several international projects and negotiations for satellite Data. This data is being widely used in South Africa as well as the SADC region, specifically the Spot 5 open access contract, which has been serving the Earth observation community for over the last five years. He has engaged with many international space agencies to invest and co-locate ground segment equipment at Hartebeeshoek to enhance the visibility of the South African role in the international space sector.

Managing Director: SANSA Space Science, Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell

Prior to accepting the position of MD: SANSA Space Science in June 2011, she was the Acting Managing Director of the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO), a national facility of the National Research Foundation (NRF) which migrated to SANSA on 1 April 2011. She held the Acting MD position for a period of 18 months from January 2010, and is also a Visiting Research Professor at Rhodes University. Her research areas of specialization are ionospheric physics and space weather and her PhD work was on the development of a neural network based ionospheric model for the bottomside electron density profile over Grahamstown, South Africa. Amongst other commitments, she is currently Chair of the International Reference Ionosphere (IRI) working group, a member of the International Ionosonde Network Advisory Group (INAG), Associate Editor for Radio Science and the journal of Space Weather and Space Climate. Nationally she is responsible for the South African Ionosonde Network, currently consisting of four stations. She maintains a number of international collaborations with scientists from the USA, Austria, Czech Republic and Argentina, is a C1 rated scientist of the South African National Research Foundation (NRF), has published numerous papers in peer reviewed journals, presented at many international and local conferences, and is a reviewer for 4 international journals. In addition, she has working collaborations with Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya, and is presently supervising a number of students from different countries within Africa.




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