Dr Tidianne Ouattara Gives Status Update on the African Outer Space Programme

Dr Tidiane Ouattara presenting updates on the African Outer Space Programme

During the inaugural day of the 2024 NewSpace Africa Conference, taking place from April 2nd to April 5th at the Talatona Convention Centre in Luanda, Angola, Dr Tidiane Ouattara, President of the African Space Council and Head of the Science, Technology, and Space Division at the African Union Commission (AUC), delivered a presentation on the progress of the African Outer Space Programme. In his address, he emphasised that the Outer Space Programme is a flagship programme of the African Union envisioned for an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful utilisation of space technologies and applications in Africa. He highlighted that the programme will be driven by African citizens and positioned as a dynamic force in the global arena.

Dr Tidiane outlined the goals of the African space policy and strategy, the compass guiding Africa’s space endeavours, based on the aspirations stipulated under Agenda 2063. According to him, the policy aims to establish a well-coordinated and integrated African space programme that addresses the continent’s social, economic, political, and environmental needs while being globally competitive. Additionally, the policy aims to establish a regulatory framework that supports the African space programme and ensures Africa’s responsible and peaceful use of outer space.

Regarding the space strategy, the goals involve leveraging space-derived products and services for decision-making and addressing various economic, political, social, and environmental challenges across Africa. Furthermore, the strategy aims to develop indigenous space capabilities in private and public sectors, fostering a coordinated, effective, and innovative African-led space programme. These goals reflect Africa’s ambition to develop space technology and become a key player in the global space arena.

Furthermore, Dr Tidianne reported that the host agreement for the African Space Agency was signed on January 24, 2023, and that the African Space Council was elected on February 15, 2024. In addition, Dr Tidianne stated that the African Space Council would operate as the governance and supervisory body of AfSA, tasked with ensuring alignment between the Agency’s activities and the broader policy objectives of the AU. According to the AfSA Statute, the Council would approve strategic plans, budgets, policies, and regulations, establish the Advisory Committee and appoint the Director General, strengthening AfSA’s contributions to the AU Agenda 2063. The council comprised ten members, including the President and the Vice President. He also mentioned that the AU’s Executive Council deferred the election and appointment of the remaining two (2) members from the Central African region of the Space Council to its 45th Ordinary Session scheduled for July 2024.

Dr Tidanne mentioned some notable achievements of the African Outer Space Programme, including: 

  • Several studies have been conducted to establish the rationale behind the African Space Agency’s Sectoral Programmes and activities. These studies include assessments of the Earth Observation private sector in Africa and socio-economic studies encompassing Earth Observation, SatCom, Astronomy, Space Science, and Academia.
  • Capacity-building efforts have been substantial, with over 10,000 African experts and young individuals trained through initiatives such as GMES & Africa and hackathons.
  • Numerous centres, laboratories, and training institutions have been equipped, including the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), the Organisation for the Safety of Space Operations (OSS), etc. Additionally, 12 Earth Data reception stations (E-Stations) have been installed across 11 countries.
  • Awareness and outreach activities have been extensive, with participation in continental events such as the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) Conference, AfricaGIS, NewSpace Africa Conference, Africa-USA Space Forum (held alongside the Africa-USA Summit), and the European Space Conference.
  • Agreements have been established under the AU-EU framework for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) & Africa phases 1 and 2 and on COPERNICUS data access.
  • A new AU-EU Space Cooperation Programme has been initiated through the AU-EU Space Dialogue.
  • Agreements have been signed with the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES – France) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), alongside a letter of intent with the European Space Agency. These agreements aim at capacity building, infrastructure development, training, research and development, and technical support for Earth Observation data accessing and processing.
  • AUC is holding discussions with several other countries, including the USA (government entities, Space Foundation), China (White Space Policy Paper), and Brazil (Science, Technology, and Innovation agreement including space).

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