Conversations with Trailblazing Women of Africa

This series showcases and promotes pioneering women entrepreneurs, pilots program managers and professionals across Africa

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Our video series “Trailblazing Women of Africa” aims to raise awareness of the roles being played by women in the African drone industry and help inspire others to consider a career or entrepreneurial opportunities in this industry

Suzanne Von Rauenstein, South Africa

Suzanne the is acting Head of Department (HoD) in one of Africa’s biggest Drone and Aviation schools.  She also acts as Quality Assurance Manager for ROC holders in the industry and often assists ROC holders with preparation yearly audits by CAA.

Suzanne has been involved in the aviation industry for the past 13 years. She started with her PPL (Helicopter) in 2009, obtained her CPL (Helicopter) and instructor’s rating (helicopter) in 2011 and has since obtained her DRE (Designated Remote pilot examiner) from the SACAA and operates as Cranfield Aviation Training’s Chief Flying Instructor (CFI).

Tinah Manduna Mutabazi, Uganda

Tinah Manduna Mutabazi is passionate about strategic planning and business development in technology and eager to see how drones can be used to transform various industries and livelihoods with remote sensing analysis. She is a LIM graduate from Loughborough University (UK).  Currently she serves as the Coordinator for Uganda Flying Labs (UFL).

During her career of nearly 25 years, she has been in Information Services in academic institutions, developed databased through open-source applications, experienced the revolution of automation in circulation systems and developed portals. Tinah has worked various capacities at management level in Zimbabwe, UK and Uganda. Her career in GIS has exposed her to various platforms such as ArcGIS, ENVI, QGIS, PIX4D and Picterra.  Alongside coordinating UFL, Tinah is the Managing Director of Ratidzo Spatial (RST) Ltd, a company for surveying, data analysis and spatial technology.

Tinah aims to see innovation in the robotics space grow as she collaborates with other strategic partners and influence the next generation to embrace robotics, piloting, and software application development. She has a CASA Remote Pilot Licence, PIX4D Certification and completed the WeRobotics Health Robotics course to equip her for the challenges surrounding that need rapid response.

Uganda Flying Labs

Kim James – South Africa

Kim spent over 20 years in the investment banking industry in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. She has a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Middlesex University and is a Chartered HR Professional of the SA Board of People Practices. Kim is now fortunate enough to be using her global experience gained in a highly regulated and structured industry, in the aviation field back in South Africa.

Kim is a Director of the SACAA-certified drone operation, UAV Aerial Works and the company’s drone security brand, Drone Guards, as well as the regulatory Safety and Security post holder for UAV Aerial Works.

Aviation is her second career and passion, and among her latest achievements, a chapter in a co-authored Amazon #1 best seller, “Drone Professional 1”. Kim is also currently an Executive Committee member of CUAASA – the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa.

Zethu Gumede – South Africa  

Occupation: Air Traffic Service Officer at OR Tambo International Airport

Qualifications: BSc Environmental Science (UKZN), BSc Honours (WITS)

Affiliations: Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD-NC)

Interests: Aviation, STEM, Drone Technology & Environmental Issues

Volunteering Experience: Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), National Youth Development Agency (NYDA); Greenpeace and Girls Fly Program Africa (GFPA)

Itumeleng Mokoena – South Africa     

Itumeleng defines herself as a dreamer, believer, pilot, artist, and lover. She is a licensed RPAS pilot and has completed over 200 flight hours within the commercial drone industry. Furthermore, she is a licensed RPAS instructor on both multirotor and fixed wing drones. She is also a certified RPAS Maintenance Technician.

Outside of the aviation space, she holds a Non-Destructive Testing Diploma and a BTech in Business Administration. She is also the Founder of Drone Pilot Network, a group which aims to assist people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to get into the drone space in South Africa. Itumeleng is also the Operations Manager for Parthenius Air, a licensed ROC holder within the Republic of South Africa.

Anne Nderitu – Kenya   

Anne Nderitu is a trained aerospace engineer and the COO of Kenya Flying Labs. In 2020, Anne had an opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Malawi to build and operate drones for humanitarian purposes. She is a licensed drone pilot and TOP Level 2 certified drone operator. Anne was honored to be named as a Woman to Watch 2020 by Women and Drones.

Anne is am passionate about drones because of the impact they are making in the lives of many communities.  She believes Africa is on the right track to leveraging technology and creating a better Africa for all.

Anne is also the founder of The Girls Boardroom Foundation. The Foundation mentors and inspires women to become leaders of society.

Diana Banda – Zimbabwe 

Diana Banda is a drone enthusiast and the Communications Lead for the newly established Zimbabwe Flying Labs.

She was involved in the first ever Drone Racing Zimbabwe Community where she helped to organize the ‘meet-ups’ and raise awareness about the value of the drone industry for attendees who were learning about the industry for the first time. Diana is also part of the Community Outreach team that educates girls about drone technology.

Zimbabwe Flying Labs 

Lebbohang Lebogo, South Africa   

Lebohang Lebogo, was born and raised in Kagiso Township.  In 2010, she graduated top of her faculty in International Travel at College Campus. She joined South African National Blood Services (SANBS) in 2011 as a Trainee Medical Technician and now works as a Technical Support Officer for the Processing and Issuing Division. She is part of the SANBS Millennial Board, which is aimed at grooming young talent with the potential to become future leaders within the organization.

Lebo is currently training towards obtaining her Private Pilot license at the Africa Aviation Academy at Rand Airport, and has obtained her BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone license as part of her role in being the first drone pilot at the SANBS where they will one day soon deliver emergency blood and blood products to rural communities where health care facilities are few and far between.

Sonet Kock, South Africa   

Sonet Kock is the Founder and Managing Director of AviComply (Pty) Ltd – a consulting firm specializing in Aviation Compliance Solutions.

Sonet has extensive experience in Aviation Regulatory Compliance for manned and unmanned aviation and has been specializing Quality and Safety Assurance for flight operations for the past 18 years.

Sonet is currently focussing on Enterprise Drone Adoption – the interpretation and implementation of the promulgated RPAS regulations to assist companies to introduce RPAS into their operations. Future aspirations include Drone Regulatory development and drafting, promotion of Urban Air Mobility and specialization in International Air and Space Law.

Virginie Uwimana, Namibia   

Virginie Uwimana is the Assistant Coordinator and Public Relations Officer at the Namibia Flying Labs (NFL)

Virginie  is an experienced civil/structural engineer, drone pilot and co-owner of Kanie, a Namibian based drone supply company. She holds a B.Eng. degree in Civil Engineering from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and is currently working towards her Master’s degree in structural engineering at the same institution.

As the NFL assistant coordinator and public relations officer, her duties include managing media coverage and overseeing projects. She has worked for a Namibian multi-disciplinary engineering consulting firm where she gained experience in the design, supervision and management of projects in the field of structures, roads, water and environmental engineering. She has also worked as a part-time lecturer at NUST. In addition to the above, she serves on the executive committee of the Namibia Association for Women in Sciences (NAAWIS) and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) – Namibia chapter.

More interviews coming soon!

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