African Space Policy & Strategy: Redefining Satellite Navigation and Positioning in Africa (2)

This is the concluding part of this series

The application of N&P is through non-augmented and the augmentations systems and techniques. The accompanying tech to use is dependent on the needs of each application. The app is dissolved in the report thus:

  1. The non-augmented system includes global and regional systems (GNSS); the global systems are those that provide service all around the world and 24hours a day (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou); and regional system like the Japanese QZSS (Quasi-Zenith Satellite System).
  2. Augmented GNSS are those systems that improve the performance of GNSS; they are Satellite-based. Augmentation Systems (SBAS), Ground-Based Augmentation systems (GBAS) and Aircraft Based Augmentation systems
  3.  The augmentation techniques are those that are developed and used to improve GNSS performance such as RAIM (Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring), DGNSS (Differential GNSS), RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) …

Read Part 1 of this article.

Industrial application

N&P usage in Africa cuts across the sectors highlighted by the AUC, and records notable performances. However, there is an ever-increasing need for a regional advancement of prerequisite tools. The GNSS applications available in Africa are PPP, DGNSS and RTK and they are often obtained through private establishments like FUGRO or through local solutions, limiting the reach of the users. Therefore there is a dire need for the establishment of ground stations across Africa to reach minimum requirements.

Infrastructural development

GNSS applications are reliant on several infrastructures to function effectively.

Sector Segments Description
Transport Aviation Use of N&P services: Communication Navigation & Surveillance/Air traffic management (CNS/ATM) e.g. during en-route, approach and terminal phases of flight operations. Search & rescue.

Technologies: Non-augmented GNSS, ABAS, GBAS, SBAS

Regulatory framework: ICAO, regional and national regulations

Value chain actors: Non-augmented & augmented GNSS service providers, receiver & component manufacturers, aircraft manufacturers, airlines & aircraft operators, airports, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), Civil aviation authorities, states, users associations, international organisations

Maritime Use of N&P services: ocean, coastal and restrictive water navigation (harbour approach, port & inland waterways); traffic management and surveillance, search & rescue, fishing vessel control, port operations, marine engineering.

Regulatory frameworks: IMO, Solas Conventions, IALA, AU maritime framework

Technologies: Non-Augmented GNSS, DGNSS, SBAS, PPP, RTK

Value chain actors: Non-augmented & augmented GNSS service providers, maritime organisations, components & receiver manufacturers, system integrators, SAR Beacon manufacturers, users (Shipowners operators, fishing boat operators, offshore operators, mariners, recreational boat pilots), users of positioning information (SAR response such coast guards, coordination centres, joint rescue; port authorities, surveillance authorities)

Roads Use of N&P services: Safety-critical applications, Payment critical applications, Regulatory critical applications, Smart mobility

Regulatory frameworks: IAU road framework

Technologies: GNSS, SBAS, Assisted-GNSS,

Value chain actors: cars & receiver manufacturers, road authorities, states, users associations, international/regional organisations

Rail Use of N&P services: Autonomous train Control, Maintenance & Survey, Traffic management, Autonomous train services, Assets management, Passenger information

Technologies: GNSS, SBAS, PPP

Value chain actors: component & receiver manufacturers, system integrators, train manufacturers, train owners/operators, infrastructure managers

Agriculture Farm machinery


Use of N&P services: C13 soil preparation, seeding, fertilising and harvesting,

Technologies: GNSS, SBAS, PPP, RTK

Value chain actors: component & receivers manufacturers; Augmentation services providers, device vendors, tractor manufacturers, farm management solutions & applications providers, end-users

Biomass monitoring
Automatic steering


Yield monitoring
Soil condition


Livestock tracking
Survey & Mapping Cadastral Surveying Use of N&P services: soil preparation, seeding, fertilising and harvesting

Technologies: GNSS, SBAS, DGNSS, PPP, RTK

Mapping/GIS Value chain actors: Augmentation services providers, components & receivers manufacturers, software applications and added value service developers, professional users, customers of surveying services
Public Safety & Emergency Services Disaster Use of N&P services: disaster management, search & rescue, emergency interventions

Technologies: C26GNSS, SBAS

Value chain actors: Augmentation services providers, components & receivers manufacturers, software applications and added value services developers, state organisations

LBS Leisure Use of N&P services:

Technologies: GNSS, PPP, RTK

Value chain actors: Augmentation services providers, components & receivers manufacturers, software applications and added value services developers, professional users (telecom organisations), customers of LBS services

Science, Environment & weather Climate Use of N&P services: C29geodesy, climate monitoring, supporting earth observation & astronomy

Technologies: GNSS, PPP, RTK

Value chain actors: Augmentation services providers, components & receivers manufacturers, software applications and added value service developers, professional users ( scientific community), customers of services

Emerging Technologies Drones and unmanned vehicles Use of N&P services: supporting emerging and widespread technologies such as location & positioning of drones, dynamic of objects

Technologies: GNSS, PPP, RTK

Value chain actors: Augmentation services providers, components & receivers manufacturers, software applications and added value service developers, professional users ( scientific community), customers of services

Internet of Things
Timing Not covered by the study


The image above shows that Africa still suffers a lot of infrastructural deficit in different sectors. A lot of machinery, expertise, and equipment are still in need to achieve the global standard. The AUC report carefully highlights this. While some N&P infrastructures exist in Africa under categorisation such as Local Area Differential and Precise Positioning Infrastructure, Local Area Differential and Precise Positioning Infrastructure, Wide Area Differential Positioning Infrastructure, Stand Alone GNSS Reference stations, GNSS Data Processing Infrastructure, Africa still needs more.

N&P development in Africa has a lot of strong areas but still suffers from an infrastructural deficit, inadequate technical know-how, absence of adequate investment and funding, the low adoption rate of innovative techniques due to lack of exposure, to mention a few. The report includes a swot analysis that is displayed below:

Infrastructure Category Primary Sectors Served by Satellite N&P


Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
Wide Area Precision Positioning Infrastructure · Maritime

· Agriculture

· Survey & Mapping

· Emerging Technologies (Drones and unmanned vehicles, ITS)

· Capacity to deliver PPP services

· Low-level investment required in-ground infrastructure

· Sparse coverage in Africa. Mainly providing services to the Maritime community (oil & gas, maritime navigation)

· Investment needed by users in equipment and recurrent costs.

· performance challenges in equatorial African regions dues to high scintillation solar activities.

· Continuous upgrades to GPS constellation with new civilian navigation signals and robust system designs.

· Bundling of services through the integration of products now offered by few Surveying equipment manufacturers ( Trimble and Novatel )

· Potential alternative solution will be available through Galileo High Accuracy Commercial Service (HA CS) may render services from Wide Area Precision Positioning Infrastructure obsolete

· PPP services offered through Wide Area Precision Positioning Infrastructure will be widely available through internet streaming as IoT devices increase.

Local Area Differential and Precise Positioning Infrastructure · Maritime

· Agriculture

· Survey & Mapping

· Provides Higher levels accuracy to a limited geographical area for those states that have deployed the infrastructure.

· A cost-effective solution for states seeking to provide positioning services to their citizens.

· readily available technology (GNSS Receivers, modems etc) on the market.

· Readily available human capacity to support the operation of infrastructure (training institutions)

· Rate of adoption of the implementation of GNSS CORS is very slow. Only 14 States out of 54 known to have an infrastructure.

· Existing CORS are sparsely distributed with an average spacing of 100KM.

· Low coverage of CORS network within the majority of States

· Limited optimization of infrastructure usage due to the low level of participation in regional initiatives such as AFREF

· High-level investment needed due to the large density of reference stations required to cover the entire African continent.

· Performance depends on the distance from the user position to the reference station.

· Limited infrastructure to serve Maritime Navigation service providers in Africa.

· Poor access to service due to low levels of telecommunication means

· The CORS infrastructure development is continuously supported by states through the implementation of SDI (Spatial Data Infrastructure) –

E.g Ghana plans to cover the country with over 30 more CORS,

· Continuous improvement of services through upgrades to GPS constellation with new civilian navigation signals and robust system designs


This focus of this report is not just to identify problems, but to recommend practical solutions, identify opportunities, and look for areas of development. The above image highlights some of these. The AUC, therefore, is duty-bound to pursue these lapses to the benefit of the continent following their stipulated guidelines and mandate.

Gap analysis

The report includes a gap analysis that borders around:

  1. Assessment of N&P gaps versus AU flagship programme on space:

This includes the identification and status of indicators, the definition of reference baseline and measurement of gaps, and qualitative gaps assessment.

2. Assessment of gaps in terms of technology and infrastructure:

This includes the quantitative evaluation of corresponding gaps in terms of N&P infrastructure and technology.

The practical guidelines for identifying the status of implementation in the report are:

  1. Leveraging space-derived benefits
  2. Strengthening research, development and innovation
  3. Developing and using human capital
  4. Institutionalising a corporate governance structure
  5. Adhering to regulatory requirements
  6. Building critical infrastructure
  7. Fostering regional coordination and collaboration
  8. Promoting strategic partnerships
  9. Funding and sustainability

 The gap analysis, however, shows that most of the N&P domain indicators are still at an incredibly low ebb, scoring an average of 2 out of a possible 5 in performance indicators. This identification by the gaps analysis reinforces the importance of assessing performance to know areas that need improvements, and apparently, all included regions are in dire need of improvement, especially in the first ten years of implementation, as the failure or success of these first ten years will tell emphatically on the overall success of the African Space Policy and Strategy in the long run. A visual representation of the indicator performance is included below.

Strategic Objectives impacted

Sat N&P

Generic indicator of the Space Strategy Indicator for N&P domain Status and level of implementation of the intervention area for N&P Domain Rating
SO1 S06 Number of communities of practice Status of 10 Sectoral applications of N&P High potential for aviation, maritime, agriculture, survey & mapping. Low level of implementation of enablers (regulation backbone infrastructure funding) 2
Returns on investment CBAs, impact assessments, financial models Studies needed. Continental CBA GNSS/SBAS multi-sectoral on-going at AUC.

Results at the regional level available at JPO showing positive impact for aviation and other applications SBAS

Overall rating 2
SO1 SO4 Number of services and products using African capacities Number of R&D services and products using African N&P capacities Several GNSS Reference stations supporting scientific research in Africa (IGS, African Array, AfREF, SAGAIE monitor etc…)  2
Number of publications Publications from research institutes on N&P The low number of Publications from African research centres and universities on satellite N&P. 1
Number of patents Not available No patent on N&P upstream value chain but existing initiatives, specifically in LBS applications 1
Number of industrial designs Not available Not available 0
Number of space-related research centres Number of research centre related to N&P The low number of research institutions including NASRDA, PAN African University, Number of research centre related to N&P applications CURAT, among others 1
Overall rating 1
SO1 The number of graduates in space-related fields. Number of graduates in N&P/GNSS fields The low number of graduates compared to the forecasted evolution of N&P in Africa AFRIGIST (2400) CRAST-LF (409), ARCSSTEE (470) (refer to 1
Number of space-related experts employed in space- related profession Number of N&P related experts employed in N&P- related profession Increasing needs in N&P professionals to answer the growing demand in aviation (32.000 Pilots over 20 years), maritime (TBC), survey, mapping (TBC) and LBS (TBC) 2
Overall rating 1
SO1 SO2 SO3 SO4 SO5 A formal corporate governance structure established A formal corporate governance structure on N&P established N&P department in AfSA, AfREF EGNOS in Africa support Programme (Steering Committee) 2
Achievement of strategic goals Achievement of strategic goals on N&P Ongoing implementation of N&P of AFsA 2
Overall rating 2
SO2 SO3 SO4 A regulatory framework that is supportive of space activities A regulatory framework that is supportive of N&P activities Space policy, AU space strategy, AfSA, National space agencies, SDIs (spatial data Infrastructure) sectorial regulations for SoL reason (aviation, maritime), existing regulatory gaps in other applications (survey & mapping, emerging technologies, ETC….) 2
Number of contributions made in multilateral forums crucial for the peaceful uses of outer space Number of N&P related contributions made in multilateral forums crucial for the peaceful uses of outer space Participation of Africa to N&P related multilateral forums (ITU-ATU-ITRF; IMO; ICAO NSP, SBAS IWG, UNOOSA Committee on GNSS) see table 29 1
Coordination of mechanisms instituted by AU member states Coordination of mechanisms instituted by AU member states on N&P African Space Stakeholder Dialogue 2
Number of orbital slots obtained for Africa Number of orbital slots obtained for Africa on N&P PRN NigComSat 1R; Navisat 2
Overall rating 2
SO3 SO5 Number of early warning systems on the continent N&P Number of early warning systems on the continent N&P applications supporting the early warning systems 1
Number of space missions Number of N&P space missions African Navigation Payloads

(NIGCOMSAT Payloads)

Number of space receiving/transmitting/processing facilities Number of N&P receiving/transmitting/processing facilities Earth stations and payloads 1
Number of networks created and percentage of coverage Number of N&P networks created and percentage of coverage CORs networks concentrated in areas with high population density Opportunity of EGNOS service extension in northern Africa

3 private PPP service in Africa

Overall rating 2
SO1 SO3 SO5 Number of collaborative intercontinental programmes collaborative intracontinental programmes on N&P EGNOS in Africa JPO, ASECNA SBAS,

ACAC, Beidou centres (Egypt, Tunisia), Programmes supported by N&P (RCMD, ICRAF, UN programmes)

Overall rating 3
SO1 SO2 SO3 SO4 SO5 SO6 Number of public-private partnerships Number of public-private partnerships on N&P African Array, Support from the private sector to national or regional N&P through tender (Nigeria, ASECNA

phase B)

Number of intra- Africa institutional partnerships Number of intra-Africa institutional partnerships on N&P RECs-JPO MoCs on the SBAS module creation (5), AFREF 2
Number of international partnerships Number of international partnerships on N&P JAES, ASECNA-EU, ACAC-EU, TREGA,

SAGAIE, ESESA, IGS, Beidou centres (Egypt, Tunisia),

Overall rating 2
SO1 SO2 SO3 SO4 SO5 SO6 Level of long-term funding secured from the continent N&P funding mechanism Development institutions; government (Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt) 1
The financial mechanism for the raising of funds developed N&P funding mechanism International cooperation, Development institutions; government 1
Overall rating 1


The reference baseline indicates the projection for the activation of particular infrastructural and long-term collaborative continental-wide achievement of N&P systems in Africa. Unfortunately, this also shows a slow advancement as the first ten years deadline of 2018 – 2028 draws nearer. Technology in response to user needs is at a low ebb, while performance also drags across different sub-region.

Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) are also not up to the required standard. While each sub-region continues to work very hard to meet up, it is important highlighting progress achieved so far, so that governments can sit up and work even harder and faster.

Asides CORS, several cogent infrastructural deficits like GNSS, IGS stations, Array GPS stations, Seismic Stations, etc. are being worked on around the clock. One can only hope that all countries and sub-regions are able to meet the set deadline in order to foster African progress in space tech without having to leave some countries or regions behind.

Implementation plan

The AUC plan works on a deadline based roadmap, having a short term, medium-term and long term execution time frame. The first ten-year implementation Plan of AUC presented targets for each objective and priority area of Agenda 2063 on the timeframe 2013-2023. This report aims at an evolution of N&P services at a targeted ten-year period from 2018-2028. The report issues the following as the core focus of Africa for the next ten years of execution:

  • Development of the services and products required to respond effectively to the socio-economic needs of the continent,
  • Development of indigenous capacity to operate and maintain core space capabilities,
  • Development of an industrial ability that can translate innovative ideas from research and development into the public and commercial sectors,
  • Coordination of space activities across member states and regions to minimise duplication, but maintaining sufficient critical mass,
  • Fostering international cooperation within Africa and with the rest of the world as a means of realising the full value proposition of the space sector.


The success of the AUC plan is a collaborative long-term plan with breaks and pauses for assessments. The long walk entails all African countries and sub-regional blocs to walk a similar path and work for the success of the Africa Space Policy and Strategy. The failure of a state is no longer an individual problem but a continental challenge. The survey and gap analysis have indicated where the continent, partners, leaders, research institutions, and other stakeholders need to partner on and cover-up within the given time frame. It is left to stakeholders to either reach the Africa Agenda or miss the opportunity to put Africa at par or even ahead of other continents. There is no better time than now. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.