The Faculty of Law (UP Law) at the University of Pretoria (UP) extends hearty congratulations to alumna Ruvimbo Samanga for receiving an award as one of the Top Talents under 25 on the globe.
The Top Talents Under 25 is the first global award which celebrates young achievers all over the world in their respective domains. This award is organised by the German magazine, Gen ZEO, which acknowledges and celebrates the role of Generation Z in the progression of our global development.
Out of 721 applications from over 45 nations, a 25-member jury adjudicated the Top Talents under 25 network: Forty talents were awarded, which is a total of five talents in eight future-critical categories: Innovation; Social; Entrepreneurship; Society; Management; Diversity; Digital; and Education.
The results were celebrated via a digital award show in place of the official launch event, which has been postponed 2021, and will take place either in Germany, Switzerland or the United Kingdom.
UP Law asked Samanga to provide us with an overview of her studies and career thus far and she reacted as follows:
‘I am very excited to have won this award as it encourages me to keep pushing forward with my space ambitions, as they are unique, globally impactful, and an innovative way to connect the world towards a future knowledge economy. This is an opportunity for me to scale my ideas and projects to a global platform, as the recognition involves expert mentorship, networking with various global professionals, as well as the opportunity to receive funding and other support. The cohort and their individual achievements will be published in a yearly magazine, which is distributed to various stakeholders around the world, which is an exciting prospect as it is an opportunity to test the world’s receptiveness to my plans.
According to Samanga her ‘space journey began at the University of Pretoria when [she] first participated with and then coached the UP Law team in the annual Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. The second time, in 2018, we became the first Africa team to ever win the title after the 26th year of the Competition. From there it has just been up, up and away. I credit the number 1 law faculty in Africa for exposing me to such a future critical field of law. This award, likewise, identified young people who are engaged in initiatives that will shape the 4IR domain. So I appreciate UP Law for exposing me to such a niche field.
I am incredibly humbled by the steady career advancements I have made to date. Since leaving the University of Pretoria, I have gone on to work as a Space Law and Policy Analyst with Space in Africa, the premier hub and consultancy for market and industry trend analysis in the African space industries. I work predominantly on policy gap analysis in the traditional and NewSpace sector in Africa.
I am also a Research Fellow with the San-Francisco based Open Lunar Foundation, where I provide research support in lunar settlement and development policy. I am establishing my social enterprise, a space startup called AgriSpace, which uses satellite data to assist food production and agricultural yields. The Ban Ki-moon Centre kindly supports this project for Global Citizens, where I received one of the six prestigious Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholarships for 2020.’
The Global Citizen Scholarship Programme empowers exceptional young people by facilitating their participation in international conferences as well as tailor-made, short-term academic trainings and supporting and mentoring them during the development of their own “SDG Micro-Project.” The scholarship includes the chance to attend renowned international fora, interact and network with high-level change-makers, access specialized educational seminars and trainings, and gain insights from expert mentors and workshops provided by the Centre.
Samanga also added that she is ‘fortunate to work in another start-up, the Angolan-based Humbitec, which likewise leverages satellite data in various domains such as disease mapping, agriculture, mineral mapping and a host of others.
I became a member and National Point of Contact for Zimbabwe in the UN Space Generation Advisory Council while I was completing my Master’s in International Trade & Investment Law at the Centre for Human Rights at UP Law. Through this programme I engaged in various capacity building projects in my country and Africa, including leading the space comic book micro project which will help build space education capacity in the region. I am also working on a comic book intended for a Zimbabwean audience.
Most exciting to date would probably be my role in the development of the HumbiSat 1st Pan-African satellite initiative, which is an entirely youth-led initiative premised on building educational and technological capacity in space for all Africa citizens, especially the youth, through the development of a satellite and the promotion of space science and technology education.
I also look forward to making a host of appearances at different space gatherings, including paper presentations at the largest space industry gathering, the International Astronautical Congress, which will be my third attendance since I began my career in 2017. I am also excited to host a few panel discussions on space-tech for agriculture, legal project management in space, and especially Africa’s future development prospects as it builds its satellite capacity.
Lastly, a big passion project of mine is the newly launched blog, and podcast shows that I will be hosting with a colleague, which blog is called Newmoon, chronicling our journey as two young women space lawyers as we navigate humanity soon returns to the moon and its various legal implications.
I am a member of various professional bodies in space, including acting as the national representative for the Women in Aerospace, Zimbabwe chapter. I currently sit on the international advisory board of the Network for Pro Bono Lawyers, and I am keenly interested in pursuing my Human Rights and International Trade & Investment background, even in space. Of course, I have a host of other projects in the pipeline, ranging from publications, events, and event production. But as you can tell, my main focus at the moment is capacity building in space, be it through the many blog articles I write, the many projects I engage in, and the different conferences and events to which I am invited to speak.’
Asked about her ultimate goal, Samanga said that it was 'to bring Africa to the world and to space. I sincerely thank the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Law for instilling that forward-mindedness in me, and I look forward to seeing the institution become a beacon for the 4th industrial revolution. Let’s future-proof Africa together. Ad Astra!’
On behalf of UP Law, a very proud Dean Elsabe Schoeman congratulated Samanga on her achievements to date, and thanked her for keeping UP Law on the global and space map. “Our best wishes accompany Ruvimbo on her continuous odyssey to figuratively and literally reach for the stars and beyond!'.