CASC Highlights Collaborative Efforts in Advancing Space-related Activities in Africa

Source: Global Times

According to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), China’s aerospace industry has significantly fostered expertise exchanges, data sharing, and technology cooperation with the international community over the past year. These endeavours have advanced the joint high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative and the community-building goal.

CASC highlighted various milestones regarding China’s multilateral and bilateral space cooperation, including releasing the Rules for Management of International Cooperation in Lunar Samples and Scientific Data to the international community in August 2023. In addition, the country disclosed its intention to accept international applications for research samples from the Chang’e-5 lunar mission and unveiled opportunities for international collaboration on the Chang’e-8 mission. These initiatives aim to facilitate collaborative research, applications, and global distribution of scientific advancements.

In 2023, the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt solidified their partnership in space exploration and the peaceful use of outer space, with a notable focus on the China-led International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) programme. Other countries in the programme include the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation and Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Belarus, and South Africa. Moreover, the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, the country’s most significant space-borne infrastructure, also known as the BDS, officially joined the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation of the United Nations (UN) in the year. 

The International Civil Aviation Organisation recognised China’s BDS as a secure, comprehensive, and reliable satellite navigation system, incorporating it into its standards to provide safe and effective services for global civil aviation. In addition, the BDS has become one of four global satellite navigation systems recognised by the UN, along with the United States GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo. It currently serves users in more than 200 countries and regions worldwide.

In 2018, the China-Arab Beidou Center was inaugurated in Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia, marking the establishment of the first overseas centre for China’s Beidou Satellite Navigation System. Situated within the Jazala Science Park on the northern outskirts of Tunis, this centre represents a collaborative effort between China and the Arab Information and Communication Technology Organisation (AICTO), a governmental organisation under the Arab League based in Tunisia. The centre serves as a pilot project to promote the global application of the Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS). It is envisioned to offer personnel training and technological research opportunities for Arab nations.

In 2021, the first China-Africa BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) Cooperation Forum was organised by the China Satellite Navigation Office, China National Space Administration, Secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Ministry of Digital Economy and Telecommunications of Senegal, and Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Department of the African Union Commission.

According to the CASC, the developers of the Fengyun satellites, which serve as duty satellites participating in the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, have been engaged in the monitoring and analysis of various global phenomena, including weather patterns, climate conditions, ecological environments, major disasters, and significant incidents. In 2023 alone, these satellites generated over 300 reports as part of their remote sensing monitoring services. Côte d’Ivoire and Pakistan were newly registered as participating countries in the International Users of Fengyun Meteorological Satellite for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Mechanism, bringing the total number of participating countries to 34. 

Furthermore, in 2023, the China-Africa Satellite Remote Sensing Application Cooperation Center was founded to facilitate collaboration in various areas, including data sharing, creating public products, dynamic monitoring through satellite remote sensing, and demonstrating applications. The centre marked a significant step forward in the collaboration between China and Africa in utilising remote sensing technologies for the sustainable development of natural resources. 

Regarding bilateral cooperation, China has signed numerous cooperation treaties and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Venezuela over the past year. China’s data sharing and cooperative exchanges in satellite remote sensing continue to advance and it has launched a platform to build a national and comprehensive remote sensing resource sharing and application services system. In addition, CNSA and the Algerian Space Agency signed the “2023-2027 China-Algeria Space Cooperation Outline” to deepen cooperation in areas such as lunar and deep space exploration, satellite communication, Earth observation, space infrastructure, training, and exchanges. 

Furthermore, CNSA signed memorandums of understanding and cooperation agreements with Egypt to conduct joint research and development cooperation in lunar and deep space exploration, spacecraft development and launch, space infrastructure construction, satellite data reception and application, BRICS remote sensing satellite constellation, space science, and astronomical observation. The EgyptSat-A, jointly designed and developed by China and Egypt, was successfully launched in 2019. It marked the first international cooperative satellite project under the comprehensive assistance mode. It will improve Egypt’s industrial system, from satellite development and ground facility construction and operation to satellite data processing, sharing, and application. 

CASC aims to support African nations in areas such as the digital economy, poverty alleviation, disaster prevention and mitigation, natural resource monitoring, water resource utilisation, and ecological environment protection to ensure overall inclusive growth on the continent.

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