Space related activities are growing rapidly in the African continent, a trend evidenced by the rapid adoption of Earth Observations by various countries in the Continent.This has at least been the case for the past eight years. African countries are seeing the need to adopt space technologies to help solve pressing problems such as climate change, food security, national security and all other related issues that are facing the continent in the 2st century. There were however obvious reason why most African countries haven’t been on the map or known for any significant space technology events. The high investment and initial capital needed to kick off a space technology project was one of the fundamental issues and other myriads of issues. However, the tide is now changing due to the development of various hardware and software technologies. These are propelling the development cost effective Earth Observations tools afforded by most countries round the world.
We have increasingly seen a myriad of partnerships crop across the continent and from outside of the African continent. These partnerships are mostly focused on hardware, software aspects, as well as capacity building for Nationals from various countries in the African continent. Capacity building has been particularly fundamental due to its contribution to countries lacking in-country experts on Space technology transitioning fully to having autonomy in their own programs. This also contributes to solving problems unique to a country instead of just general space technology applications.
There is hence a huge potential in terms of homegrown solutions to be implemented in the Space technology industry in the African continent, given its raw and yet to be fully exploited domain.There is potential to have national level as well as country level solutions. A move that the African union is pushing for with the objective of countries benefiting from different space technology programs. In this report on a strategy and policy adopted adopted in 2016, the African union states its mandate in providing the support on the the strategy and implementation of technologies for the outer Space in the African continent.
For that reason, we shall take the time to outline the various institutions that offer space related courses in the African continent. This includes various courses or spin-offs related to or linked to space related careers and opportunities along those lines in those institutions.
A typical example is the GIS and Remote sensing courses offered across institutions in the African continent. Based on the structure of an institution, some modules might be offered without cost of with cost attached to it, whereby you are expected to attend school full-time and take courses towards getting a diploma.
To become a Geospatial and Space technology Engineer highly depends on the institution you attend. Either college or technical institute. Most Engineering degrees in Universities across the continent are on a 4 or 5 year duration, to be certified fully as an Engineer.
In the coming weeks, we shall review and provide context on the different institutions offering these opportunities and courses in the African continent and steps towards being part of the student community in those institution. This would be segmented in terms of regions( East, South, Central and North Africa). Stay tuned!
Our first school review shall be the Geospatial and Space Technology Engineering Department at the University of Nairobi.
Sylvia Makario is an expert in Geospatial engineering and Space technology. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Geospatial Engineering and Space Technology and a Master of Science in Information Technology at Carnegie Mellon University.
She has worked with the United Nations and other organizations, with the key focus being the use of Space technology for social and economic development. Sylvia Makario is a Mandela Washington Fellow and currently a Global shaper by the world economic Forum member at the Kigali Hub where she continues to offer her time and expertise in developing societies in Rwanda and beyond. She is the co-founder of Hepta Analytics (www.heptanalytics.com ), a big data analytics,cloud computing and Geospatial company focused on helping small and medium enterprises make quality decisions faster and on real time through the utilization of the power of Data.