Siyabulela Siya Xuza is an energy-engineering student at Harvard University with a passion for harnessing the power of the sun for clean affordable energy. He conducts research geared towards making cheaper solar cells and assesses the commercial viability of solar technologies. A born innovator, Siya began experimenting with rocket fuels in his mother’s kitchen. This passion turned into a serious science project that culminated in him developing a cheaper and safer rocket fuel. Siya’s science project won gold at the National Science Expo and the Dr Derek Gray Memorial award for the most prestigious project in South Africa. This led to an invitation to the International Youth Science Fair in Sweden in 2006, where he presented his project to the King and Queen of Sweden and attended the Nobel prize ceremony in Stockholm. His project was then entered into the world’s biggest student science event, attracting about 1 500 students from 52 countries – the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in the US. He won the two grand awards. His credibility was further endorsed by the Nasa-affiliated Lincoln Laboratory, which was so impressed by the young engineer’s achievement that it named a minor planet after him. Planet 23182, discovered in 2000, is now known as Siyaxuza and is found in the main asteroid belt near Jupiter. In 2010 he was elected as a fellow of the African Leadership Network, a premier network of those individuals poised to shape Africa’s future over the next 10-20 years, consisting of the most dynamic, influential and successful leaders and entrepreneurs in Africa and its Diaspora. He travelled to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to engage in discussions on creating prosperity for Africa. In 2011 he became a fellow of the Kairos Society, a global network of top student and global leaders using entrepreneurship and innovation to solve the world’s greatest challenges. He was invited to the United Nations and the New York Stock Exchange in recognition for being one of the world’s emerging business leaders and to offer strategies for solving the world’s energy crisis.
Siya recently became the youngest member of the African Union affiliated Africa 2.0 energy advisory panel. He was invited to Mombasa, Kenya to assist in finding sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing economic and social issues facing Africans today. Siya is also an accomplished Xhosa praise singer and in 2003 he had the honor of performing a praise song for Nelson Mandela. After completing his studies, Siya intends to combine entrepreneurship with renewable energy to foster sustainable African development.