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The African space industry had a history of relatively quiet, sporadic progress, but it is now blossoming into enormous growth. The aggregate GDP of the continent has doubled in the last 10 years, to over USD 2.2 trillion. The African space market is now worth over USD 7 billion annually, and we project that is likely to grow over 40% in the next five years to exceed USD 10 billion by 2024
From 1998 through April 2019, 32 satellites were launched into orbit by eight African countries: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. In addition to the 32 national satellites, African institutions jointly funded three other satellite projects – RASCOM-QAF1, RASCOM-QAF1R, and New Dawn – for regional operations, bringing the total number of satellites to 35.
15 out of the 35 satellites were launched in the last four years, indicating the skyward growth rate at which Africa is embracing space technologies to power the continent’s growth and improve the lives of its people. The diverse satellite programmes include 14 earth observation satellites, 10 communications satellites, 8 technology demonstration satellites, a satellite for scientific experiments, an educational project satellite, and a military radar satellite.
The major and emerging commercial ventures operating in Africa that are involved in the space industry value chain cross multiple operational sub-sectors, such as satellite systems engineering (including manufacturers), satellite communications operators, propulsion system engineering (including rocket motor manufacturers), and ground station software solution providers. Commercial space companies such as Egypt’s publicly traded satellite operator, Egyptian Satellite Co (Nilesat), Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), NewSpace Systems, SCS Space, and Space Advisory Company are now generating revenue.
The industry’s growth is driven by growing private economies, as complemented by national and regional strategic priorities. The new African Space Agency will complement national space programmes while implementing the continental space policy stipulated under the African Union Agenda 2063. This policy looks to grow the industry with a combination of expertise and products from outside of Africa alongside the expansion of African capabilities to grow the industry for the good of all parties.
African engineers built 14 of the 35 satellites, including those they built in Africa and others using facilities outside of Africa. There are multiplying business opportunities for local and foreign companies across the various subsectors of the African space industry. The non-African entities closing the most deals on the continent include Airbus Defence and Space (France), China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), RSC Energia (Russia), Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (UK), and Thales Alenia Space (France).
On the smaller end of the scale, a growing collection of NewSpace startups in Africa have recently attracted investment at over $200 million of combined valuation.
About 8,500 people work across the African space industry. Approximately 2,000 of these people work for commercial companies, while the others are employed by governments through national space programmes and research centres.
On the Ground Insights
The African Space Industry Annual Report is published by Space in Africa, the premier source of space-related news from Africa. Space in Africa has reporters stationed in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, and Tanzania who travel around the continent to provide news, analysis, and data on all aspects of the market.
To access the full report, click here.