The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, congratulates the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) on marking a decade since its establishment.
Ten years ago, on 9th December 2009, the Department launched the much-anticipated Space Agency, marking the beginning of South Africa’s commitment to an era in service of humanity through investment in space science and technology.
It is widely acknowledged that the use of space generated knowledge and applications is essential in addressing many current and future global challenges.
The intent of the establishment of SANSA was to converge and optimise resources and maximise the benefits of space services and applications to society.
“As a technological advancing country, South Africa is reliant on space-based applications and services and therefore the establishment of SANSA was strategically important in addressing our local challenges and improving the lives of our citizens,” said Minister Nzimande.
Minister Nzimande said that a decade ago, South Africa had a number of organisations working in isolation on various space-related products and services such as the Satellite Applications Centre aligned to CSIR and the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory from the fold of the NRF amongst others. These two have since been realigned within the programmes of SANSA, making up the four strategic programmes of Space Science, Space Operations, Space Engineering and Earth Observation.
SANSA, through support from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, ensured increased focus on transforming the space sector through skills development and public outreach.
“Specific activities target women in science and previously disadvantaged youth whilst also using space to inspire future generations of space scientists and entrepreneurs across the country through public engagement,” said Minister Nzimande.
“Thousands of learners have through the years engaged with SANSA experts at science and career festivals, school visits, science centres and now, even online. Our science centre in Hermanus also hosts educator workshops to support the educators in the teaching of physics at schools,” emphasized the Minister.
Space is a global industry and SANSA has extensive partnerships with space agencies and organisations across the world through which it has provided numerous opportunities for the local space industry and academia.
Africa and the African space partners are a priority for SANSA with the intention to address African challenges with African solutions.
The Agency partners with African countries to provide training on applications of space technologies as well as create a network of scientific nodes for aligned research on the continent.
The African Resource Management Constellation is one such initiative that looks at African partners contributing a constellation of Earth observation satellites to allow Africa to manage its natural resources and ensure food security whilst reducing the cost and reliance on international satellite providers.
“I am heartened to witness the incredible contribution by SANSA to our people and the global space industry through knowledge generation, service support excellence to our space partners around the world and contribution to the local industry and our economy despite the budget constraints the Agency had to endure for a period of years. This Agency has consistently produced clean audits since its establishment and is a sign of effective management and governance,” said the Minister.
“I am also excited to share that SANSA was recently awarded funding towards the establishment of a Space Infrastructure Hub. This is because of the South African government’s plan to boost economic growth through infrastructure development,” Minister Nzimande added.
The Agency will contribute significantly to the national economy and job creation through various projects such as satellite development and testing for various space missions, Big Data platforms such as a data visualization centre, activate satellite-based augmentation system over southern Africa and ensure the development of required human capital.
I am certain that we can look forward to even more mammoth accomplishments from this young Agency of the DSI as it alters its growth trajectory with even more ambitious and impactful aspirations.