It is barely three days to the 8th African Leadership Congress (ALC) on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development themed: “Prospects and Challenges of African Space Development” scheduled from the 2-4 December 2019, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UN-ECA Hall, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The congress, aimed at capitalising efforts of African nations on space technologies to address socio-economic challenges and harnessing the opportunities that space science and technology could provide, will feature events, such as ALC Business Meetings, panel discussions and presentation on topics regarding governance, policy and law, including African space policy and strategy, regulatory considerations, policy drivers and building capacity in space law; leadership (informed) with responsibility for management oversight, monitoring and evaluation, establishing agenda that are relevant to and impact Africa’s development and growth and resourcing for a continental space programme. Other sessions will deal on issues and topics affecting the continent, including human capital, industry development, collaboration and partnership, and strategies.
Speaking to Space In Africa on his expectations from the conference and the role of the ALC towards the overall agenda of the African space program, the CEO of SANSA, Valanathan Munsami, said he hopes constructive inputs are provided to formalise and give effect to the African space programme.
“Progress is being made towards such formalisation, but it seems to be happening in an uncoordinated manner, stakeholders are also experiencing a communications void. The Conference should reflect and propose corrective action, where necessary, as these underlying issues affect the long-term prognosis of our continent,” Munsami said, adding that the ALC has a role to play in shaping the discourse relating to the African space programme.
“As experts, we can provide impactful resolutions on what works best for Africa, as we operate on the coal face of manifold space initiatives. Our collective experience needs to be harnessed to bring about a positive change that transforms our socio-economic standing on the global stage”.
On participants’ expectation from the South African delegates at the conference, Munsami said South Africa is embarking on some new initiatives and pleads for cooperation from all corners for the benefit of the continent.
Also commenting on the Africa space programme as a focus of the conference, Chairman of the Program Committee ALC, Prof. Adigun Ade Abiodun said the African Space Policy, which is approved by the African Head-of-States, shows unanimous support for an African Space Programme (ASP).
“Several principles in the policy support this notion. Similar principles are also enshrined in the Resolution of the ALC, an organisation established by Africans to pursue Africa’s space agenda. Defining the specifics of that agenda, in support of ASP, is a task that requires thoughtful contributions from all Africans, at home and in the Diaspora, with the requisite knowledge. The ALC has offered its platform for debate, contributions and dialogue on this subject at this its 8th Conference – ALC 2019,” Prof Abiodun told Space in Africa.
Keynote speakers at the congress will talk extensively on African countries’ voice in space, space for peace and diplomacy, the political commitment and leadership in space, space commerce and economy, engagement of the young African generation in space.
Regarding youth engagement, Prof Abiodun said, “the ALC, particularly, wants to ensure inclusivity of our youth (men and women) in setting the agenda. Moreover, African youths are the future owners of the agenda; they should take part in the articulation. Accordingly, the ALC 2019 Programme offers the ALC-Youth Forum (ALC-YF) the opportunity to co-lead the development of a paper and its presentation and discussion at the ALC 2019 Conference”.
Other activities scheduled for the congress are exhibitions, the consolidation of ALC 2019 Conference Reports by chairperson and moderators and rapporteurs, discussion of ALC 2019 Reports, site visitation and a closing dinner.
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The ALC was established in 2005 in Nigeria by space enthusiastic political leaders of few African countries, scientists and supporters to create partnerships to realise the aspiration of African countries and use space science and technology to support Africa’s development. Since then, the African Leadership Conferences on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable development was held seven times: Nigeria -2005, South Africa – 2007, Algeria – 2009, Kenya – 2011, Ghana – 2013, Egypt – 2015 and again in Nigeria – 2018. During this period, the ALC has contributed to African countries by helping to create a partnership and has come to be a representative African space forum in the global space community. Furthermore, the ALC helped and encouraged African countries to be active participants in the exploration and use of the space for socio-economic development. It also initiated and supported the launching of an African Resource Management Constellation project. However, a resolution was passed during last year’s congress in Abuja for a name change to African Space Leadership congress (ASLC) and adoption a new constitution in this year’s congress in Ethiopia.
The conference in Addis Ababa is hosted by the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute.
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