AU-EU Space Dialogue Kickstarts in Dakar, Senegal

Dignitaries at the high-level event

Between October 24 and 26, 2023, the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) are convening the AU-EU Space Dialogue in Dakar, Senegal. Over the next three days, this high-level discussion will serve as a platform for key space stakeholders from Africa and Europe to exchange knowledge and collaborate on significant projects in various critical areas of shared interest: Earth observation, satellite navigation, satellite-based connectivity and communication, and space research.

This gathering unites government representatives, policy influencers, industry innovators, and space technology experts from both regions to explore new prospects for joint initiatives, thereby accelerating the progress of both continents and ensuring that space effectively addresses social, economic, political, and environmental needs.

                                                   Cross-section of attendees at the event

Moreover, this event offers an opportunity to deliberate on the latest advancements in space policy and regulation, research, science, and technology and share best practices and strategies for managing space programmes. 

This dialogue will promote more robust partnerships between institutions in both regions already bearing fruit. For instance, the Senegalese Space Study Agency/Agence Sénégalaise d’Etudes Spatiale (ASES) signed a letter of intent with the European Space Agency (ESA), signifying their shared commitment to harness the potential of space technology for the socio-economic progress of Senegal. 

The inaugural day, themed “High-level Opening,” commenced with introductory speeches from several esteemed figures. The initial address was delivered by Maram Kaire, the Director General of ASES, followed by H.E. Jean-Marc Pisani, who serves as the EU Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal. 

Maram Kaire, the Director General of ASES, delivering his opening speech at the event
H.E. Jean-Marc Pisani, EU Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal, delivering his opening address at the event

The subsequent opening speech was presented by Dr Tidiane Ouattara, an AUC Space Expert and the GMES & Africa Programme Coordinator, acting on behalf of H.E. Prof. Mohamed Belhocine, the AUC Commissioner for ESTI. Following this, H.E. Amadou Ba, Senegal’s Prime Minister, provided his opening speech and officially inaugurated the event.

Dr Tidiane Ouattara, an AUC Space Expert and the GMES & Africa Programme Coordinator, delivering his opening remarks at the event
H.E. Amadou Ba, Senegal’s Prime Minister, delivering his opening remarks at the event

These opening statements held significant weight in establishing the context and underscoring the program’s importance to both regions.

Following the opening remarks, the agenda included an EU Global Action event focused on “The Future EU Space Programme and Satellite Connectivity Opportunities for Africa: Highlighting the Benefits of the IRIS^2 Programme for Local Stakeholders.”

This event provided a platform for discussions regarding opportunities for collaboration with Africa in satellite-based connectivity. It also served as a venue for the European Union to introduce the potential additional value of the recently announced IRIS^2 EU flagship programme to enhance secure connectivity for Africa. The event also helped to underline the significance of cooperation between the European Union and Africa within the space sector. It aimed to showcase opportunities for providing secure and efficient satellite-based connectivity to Africa through the IRIS^2 programme.

Till Thursday, 26 October 2023, the event will feature several high-level dialogues presenting opportunities to discuss and address common challenges. Africa and Europe encounter similar issues where space can play a role in solutions, such as addressing climate change and ensuring more equitable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly growth. Another challenge revolves around securing sustainable funding for space activities and infrastructure. The dialogue will serve as a platform for addressing these challenges and devising solutions that benefit both continents, allowing them to pool their strengths and expertise to overcome these issues together.