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Photo Credit: SmartCape.org

“Siyabulela Xuza is one of the new young generation of Africans who are committed to developing the continent’s potential.

These days the darling of Nasa, who were so taken with him that they gave him a personal guided tour of their facilities, is the youngest member of the Africa 2.0 energy advisory panel.”[1]

“He is quoted as saying that when he discovered the amount of money spent on rocket fuels which could be better spent on other projects such as AIDS/HIV research, he decided to figure out a way to make them cheaper. In return for this innovative thinking not only did he win at the Fair but the Nasa-affiliated Lincoln Laboratory named a minor planet after him. Planet 23182 discovered in 2000 -just around the time Xuza became serious about rocketry- is now known as 23182 Siyaxuza and is found in the main asteroid belt near Jupiter with an orbital period of 4, 01 years…

…Siyabulela Xuza is truly an African Renaissance man, educating himself in natural and social sciences and with a positive outlook on the impact himself and his generation will have upon the world and South Africa.”[2]

“It was 1994, the first year of a new democracy in my country, and the sight of that technological marvel ignited in me a curiosity for science and a passion for using technology to engineer an African renaissance…He was just five years old at the time. The youngster was also later inspired by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth’s trip into space in 2002, an event that was largely responsible for his long-standing interest in rocketry…

…His mother’s kitchen soon became the scene for much experimentation with formulations of jet and rocket fuel, but the informal laboratory had to be moved to the garage after a sticky incident with a too-hot stove.

Xuza wasn’t deterred, and over the next few years he continued to work on the project, which culminated in the successful launch of a real home-built rocket, the Phoenix. This vehicle achieved a final height of over a kilometre and earned him the junior South African amateur high-powered altitude record.

The rocket was propelled by Xuza’s own invention, a cheaper, safer type of rocket fuel, which became the subject of a project titled African Space: Fuelling Africa’s quest to space. It won a gold medal in the 2006 Eskom National Science Expo as well as a trip to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden, where he presented his work to the Swedish king and queen.” [1]

Photo Credit: Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Photo Credit: Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

On his journey to Harvard, Siyabulela wrote – “I will soon return to South Africa, enriched not only by a great education but also from the interactions with people from around the globe whose opinions have given me more insight on how the world works and thinks. I may not be able to predict what the future holds, but I am excited at how my engineering education will enable me to achieve my aspirations for Africa.”[3]

“Xuza is already dreaming big. “Recent events in the global political and economic arena have shifted my focus to developing a renewable energy platform for cars, using similar principles to those of my rocket fuel invention,” he says. “My dream is to create a 21st-century global energy company that will remove our addiction to petrol. If you look at all the developing economies, including SA, the growth of a middle class who want houses and cars is huge. Going green is also going to be a serious concern…

…His message to SA youth? “The time to stay positive is now. Look beyond the problems in SA and the world. Be optimistic, innovative and debate. The future of SA is definitely bright.”” [4]


1. “Notable South African: Siyabulela Xuza”, South African Consulate General, 05 March 2012, [Accessed 27 February 2013] (http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/consulate/siyabulela.html)

2. “Siyabulela Xuza”, SmartCape, 08 January 2013, [Accessed 27 February 2013] (http://www.smartcape.org.za/people-of-note/sa-men-of-inspiration/education/xuza-siyabulela.html)

3. Siyabulela Xuza, “My Journey to Harvard”, America.gov, 10 August 2009, [Accessed 27 February 2013] (http://www.america.gov/st/educ-english/2009/August/20090810110401cMretroP0.8228527.html)

4. Michèle Alexander, “Siyabulela Xuza: Down-to-earth star”, Leader.co.za, 30 OCTOBER 2008, [Accessed 27 February 2013](http://www.leader.co.za/article.aspx?s=1&f=1&a=964)