Excerpts from the 2023 NewSpace Africa Conference; Day Two

The 2023 NewSpace Africa Conference commenced yesterday with discussions highlighting the experiences and uptake of space innovation, technologies, and applications among different stakeholders [government agencies, commercial companies and academia]. Continuing the first day, the second day consisted of high-level segments of keynote speeches, interactive sessions, panel discussions, B2B matchmaking, B2C matchmaking, startup pitch competition and unique networking opportunities.

The second day started with introductory remarks by Laurent d’Ersu, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Côte d’Ivoire, Professor Mohammed Belhocine, AUC Commissioner Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), Amadou Coulibaly, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, represented by Professor Kouadio Affian, Former Vice-President, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Professor Adama Diawara, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Cross section of attendees

In his comment, Laurent d’Ersu commended the conference’s organisers and highlighted that the high-level discussions are already translating into partnerships among all actors involved in the African space ecosystem. 

Specifically, Laurent noted the immense potential of space technology to support Africa’s socio-economic development. He says, “Africa is a vast continent with diverse landscapes and resources that require effective management and planning. Thus, space technology can provide valuable insights into various sectors, such as agriculture, health, and infrastructure, which can help improve the living standards of African people. For example, remote sensing technologies can monitor crops, detect natural disasters, and identify potential areas for infrastructure development. These insights can inform policy decisions and improve resource allocation, improving economic outcomes.”

He also reiterated that collaboration between the AU and EU in space-related activities, including GMES and Africa programmes, is crucial for promoting technological advancement and addressing challenges such as natural disasters, climate change, and food security in Africa.

In conclusion, Laurent reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to continuing dialogues and strengthening strategic partnerships with Africa to leverage space technologies for sustainable development. Space technology can potentially support various sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, and water resource management, by providing critical data and information for decision-making. The EU’s efforts in supporting African countries to develop their space capabilities through initiatives such as the African Union Commission’s African Space Policy and Strategy are crucial for realising the full potential of space technologies for sustainable development. By working together, the EU and Africa can achieve more significant progress in using space technologies to address common challenges and promote sustainable development.

Amadou Coulibaly, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, represented Professor Kouadio Affian and discussed the importance of space technologies for improving Côte d’Ivoire’s digital economy.

He noted that Côte d’Ivoire is leveraging space technologies to enhance its digital infrastructure, such as expanding internet access and developing e-commerce platforms. In addition, Professor Kouadio commented that satellite communications would provide reliable and cost-effective connectivity to remote areas of the country, supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and creating new opportunities for digital entrepreneurship. Additionally, Earth observation data from satellites can provide valuable information for sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and urban planning, contributing to the country’s economic growth and sustainability. By exploring the potential of space technologies, Prof Kouadio concluded that the digital economy, Côte d’Ivoire, could position itself as a leader in innovation and create new opportunities for its citizens.

For example, the “Côte d’Ivoire national committee for digital evolution is working with relevant agencies to develop and implement policies supporting digital inclusion, increasing access to rural infrastructure in rural areas, improving digital literacy skills, and promoting the use of digital technologies in education. Also, Côte d’Ivoire hosts the RASCOMSTAR, a regional satellite communication organisation established in 1993 to provide affordable and reliable satellite communication services to 45 countries in the sub-Saharan African region.”

Shortly afterwards, Professor Mohammed Belhocine, AUC Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), gave his second address, highlighting several EO space applications projects and the need for more innovation to bring forth more success stories. 

He noted there have been over 81 Earth Observation (EO) space application projects implemented in Africa and over 230 downstream EO companies providing solutions aimed at utilising space-based technologies to address various challenges on the continent. 

He said, “These projects have been implemented by different organisations, including national space agencies, international space agencies, and private companies, in collaboration with African governments and other foreign stakeholders. Some areas where EO space applications have been applied in Africa include agriculture, climate change, disaster management, environmental monitoring, natural resource management, and urban planning. In addition, EO space applications have provided critical information and data to support decision-making processes and improve people’s lives in various African countries.”

He then concluded that there is a need for more innovation to address the challenges faced in EO space application projects in Africa, such as limited resources, insufficient infrastructure, and lack of skilled personnel.

This was immediately followed by the welcome address and official opening by Patrick Jerome Achi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister and Head of Government, represented by the Honourable Minister of State, Mrs Kandia Kamissoko Camara, where she officially declared the conference exhibition open on behalf of the President and Prime Minister of CIV.

She reiterated the need for space technologies to revolutionise several thematic areas and realise Africa’s sustainable development programme and the AUC. “Utilising space technologies is crucial for revolutionising several thematic areas and realising Africa’s sustainable development programme and the African Union Commission (AUC) objectives. In addition, space technologies have tremendous potential to address several challenges facing Africa, such as climate change, food security, natural resource management, disaster management, and urban planning.”

In addition, we are to operationalise our space agency and coordinate and implement a country’s space activities. “Having a national space agency is essential for us to establish a coordinated and strategic approach to space activities and leverage the potential benefits of space technology and science for socio, economic, environmental and political development in our country,” she concluded.  

The Prime Minister’s address was followed by the ministerial panel, moderated by Andiswa Mlisa, former Acting CEO of the South African National Space Agency; Professor Adama Diawara, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; Professor Mohammed Belhocine, AUC’s Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI); and Pascoal Ale Fernandes, Secretary of State of Telecommunications, Angola, discussed the role of state actors the African space industry, as they are responsible for setting policies, developing strategies, and providing funding for space activities in their respective countries.

The panellists spoke about the importance of offices in developing policies and strategies needed to promote the development of the African space industry, such as fostering innovation and investment in space technology, supporting research and development, and encouraging collaboration with other countries. Furthermore, they noted their roles in securing and providing funding for space activities in their respective countries and regions to help propel research and development programmes, satellite manufacturing and launches, and space-related infrastructure projects. They also highlighted their responsibility in collaborating and securing funding from international organisations and donors to support their space programmes.

Specifically, Professor Adama Diawara explained the rationale behind establishing the Ivorian Space Agency, stating that the agency will be under his office, the Ministry of High Education and Scientific Research. Furthermore, he mentioned that the nation is strategically partnering with AUC and the EU to set up the agency properly to ensure that the country reaps the full benefits of space for economic development, national security, and disaster management.

The panellists also discussed their roles in building synergy between private and public actors. 

Professor Adama Diawara disclosed that 12 private space companies are exhibiting at this conference, which is a testament to his government’s efforts in creating a conducive environment for the growth of the private sector in Côte d’Ivoire’s space industry. Additionally, he added that his office would continue to ensure that his ministry and other relevant institutions support and engage with local space companies to facilitate their participation in national development. “We are also focused on developing expertise in various space-related areas, as evidenced by our emphasis on research and innovation. Furthermore, we bring together key stakeholders, including worker and employer unions, to collaborate and enhance the Ivorian space ecosystem,” he concluded.

Professor Mohammed Belhocine shared his thoughts on some challenges emerging countries face in justifying spending on space projects to their citizens, given more pressing concerns that require immediate attention. 

In his response, Prof Belhocine explained that making a case for space exploration when people live in poverty can be tedious. Nevertheless, it is more plausible when weighed against the dividends of such explorations, and space can directly solve 14 out of the 17 SDGs. Furthermore, the Commissioner added that investing in space programmes can lead to the development of new technologies and industries, contributing to economic growth and job creation. Also, he shared that space technologies can enhance national security by providing early warning systems, intelligence-gathering capabilities, and other tools that can help governments protect their citizens and support scientific research and exploration, which can lead to discoveries and advancements in fields such as medicine, materials science, environmental science, and many more.

“Space infrastructure can benefit all countries, regardless of their wealth. However, to reap these benefits, establishing the appropriate infrastructure and framework is important to address the initial issues when partnering with others. This can help avoid duplication and ensure a focus on the most important priorities. To achieve this, a comprehensive and coordinated approach is required where all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities. This approach should also include appropriate oversight to monitor the progress of the space industry in Africa and ensure that it aligns with our goals to establish a strong space infrastructure in Africa; we must begin at the individual country level and then expand regionally before ultimately addressing the continent as a whole. In addition, efforts should be made to build our capability to create hardware and move from mere consumers of space technology,” Professor Belhocine concluded.

Pascoal Ale Fernandes explained the motivation behind investing in a communication satellite (Angosat-2) to improve the country’s telecommunications infrastructure and increase access to the internet and other communication services. He added, “Angola has faced challenges in expanding its telecommunications network, particularly in rural areas. Introducing a communication satellite allows one to bypass some of the limitations of traditional terrestrial infrastructure and reach a wider population with modern communication services.

With the launch of the Angosat-1 and the replacement, Angosat-2, in October 2022, Angola became one of the few African countries with its communication satellite. This has enabled us to improve its connectivity and digital transformation efforts. The satellite has helped to increase our access to high-speed internet, expand mobile network coverage, and support e-government initiatives, among other benefits. Overall, the motivation behind the communication satellite for digital transformation in Angola is to facilitate the country’s integration into the global digital economy, spur economic growth and development, and improve the quality of life for our country’s people.”

Panel 1: Space for sustainable development in Africa

This panel session, moderated by Njeri Maina, the director of market development – Africa at Planet Labs, focused on discussing how space applications can be tapped to promote a conducive continent. It will explore how data from the earth observation sector can be used to make adequate and tailored decisions by governments, private individuals, and businesses to enforce innovative and creative sustainable solutions and examine challenges and trends in the segment.

From (L-R) Njeri Maina, Director of Market Development – Africa, Planet Labs (moderator); Catherine Ghyoot, International Aid / Cooperation Officer for Science, Technology and Innovation, INTPA European Commission; Prof Islam Abou El-Magd, Acting President, National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences, Egypt; Dr Thembi Xaba, Managing Director, Digital Earth Africa; Dr Mobio Hervé, Director of the Remote Sensing and GIS Laboratory, CURAT, Felix Houphouët-Boigny University, Cote d’Ivoire; and Dr Kouakou Malano, Senior Research Officer, National Agricultural Research Centre of Côte d’Ivoire (CNRA)

Catherine Ghyoot discussed ways to revise the adoption of these space solutions in Africa to ensure that they culminate in sustainable development. She discussed two approaches that can actualise this dream. She says, “One approach to increasing the adoption of satellite technologies and derived data in Africa is to focus on capacity building. This involves training and supporting individuals and organisations in effectively using these technologies and data. This could include data analysis, software tools, and hardware infrastructure training. Another approach is to focus on increasing awareness of the benefits of these technologies and data. This could involve targeted outreach to policymakers, communities, and businesses to highlight these solutions’ potential impact on economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social development.”

Dr Kouakou Malano discussed his organisation’s role in collaborating with local and international actors to disseminate space information and increase space adoption for sustainable development. He explained that collaborating with other entities can help bring together different areas of expertise, resources, and knowledge. By working together, local and international partners can pool their expertise to create a more comprehensive approach to space information dissemination and adoption in Côte d’Ivoire. For example, Dr Malano noted that local partners might have valuable knowledge about regional needs and priorities, while international partners may bring global perspectives and technological expertise.

Prof Islam Abou El-Magd discussed the need to improve data-sharing policies within African countries. He explained that improving data-sharing policies in Africa is critical for sustainable development and innovation. By addressing the barriers to data sharing and promoting a culture of data sharing, African countries can better leverage data to inform decision-making, support scientific research, and drive innovation.

However, Prof Islam noted significant barriers to space data sharing in Africa. “One of the biggest obstacles is the lack of clear policies and frameworks governing space data sharing. In many cases, space data is collected by various organisations but not shared, either due to legal or technical barriers. Furthermore, many African countries lack the technical infrastructure needed to manage and share space data effectively.” To address this, Prof Islam reiterated the need to improve space data sharing policies in Africa. According to him, “improving this area would involve developing clear guidelines and frameworks that govern space data sharing, including rules around data ownership, privacy, and security. Additionally, governments and organisations must invest in building the technical infrastructure needed to support space data sharing, including robust data management systems and secure data storage facilities.”

Dr Mobio Hervé discussed his work at the Centre Universitaire de Recherche et d’Application en Télédétection (CURAT) focused on leveraging space technologies for coastal monitoring in Cote d’Ivoire. He noted that satellites provide high-resolution images of their coastline, which helps them to monitor changes over time. “These images help identify areas particularly vulnerable to erosion or flooding and allow for early intervention measures to be put in place. Additionally, satellite imagery can be used to monitor pollution levels and track the movement of marine litter, which can help inform coastal management policies. Another way that space technologies can support coastal monitoring is through the use of remote sensing. Remote sensing can gather data on various environmental variables, including ocean temperature, sea level, and water quality. This data can help identify patterns and trends that can inform decision-making processes related to coastal management,” he concluded. 

Dr Thembi Xaba spoke about prioritising end-users needs to create practical solutions rather than simply awarding certificates during training sessions. She noted that satellite training could play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change by enabling end-users to leverage satellite data to make informed decisions. 

Dr Thembi added that “such training empowers users to leverage satellite data to make informed decisions, monitor changes in environmental indicators, and implement targeted measures to reduce carbon footprint and adapt to climate change. To achieve this, satellite training should consider factors such as local climate conditions, resource availability, and community needs and aim to develop customised solutions that meet the specific requirements of end-users. Ultimately, the focus should be creating sustainable solutions addressing climate change challenges.”

Panel 2: Small Satellites – opportunities, risks and Potentials for Africans

This panel session, moderated by Leehandi De Witt, Head of Sales and Marketing, NewSpace Systems, reviewed the meta-trends behind the traction, the challenges, and the future potential of the participating industry segments. They will also speak on the nuances of the African satellite market, growth projections, collaborations with space agencies, if there have been any, and the influence of African policies on industry development.

From (L-R) Leehandi De Witt, Head of Sales and Marketing, NewSpace Systems (Moderator); Dr Ayman Ahmed, Head of Space Imaging Department, Egyptian Space Agency; David du Toit, Business Advisor, Dragonfly Aerospace; and Dr Gayane Faye, Director of the Applied Remote Sensing Laboratory, University of Cheick Anta Diop, Senegal.

To set the stage, David du Toit commented on how to grow a nascent space ecosystem into a sustainable one via commercialisation as the driving force. He noted that Africa could grow its space ecosystem by fostering innovation by supporting research and development in space-related technologies, which can be achieved through grants, tax incentives, and partnerships with universities and research institutions. Furthermore, he commented that it is essential to develop a robust regulatory framework that establishes clear rules and regulations for space activities that will help to ensure safety and prevent conflict between different space actors. “We should also provide an enabling environment for private investment by creating a stable and predictable business environment. This can be achieved by providing incentives for companies to invest in space, such as tax breaks or access to government resources,” he concluded.

Dr Ayman Ahmed highlighted EgSA’s work to provide hands-on training programmes covering EO, manufacturing, etc.,  for undergrads, MSc and PhD students. He noted that the agency had offered hands-on training programmes covering all thematic space areas for people from varying levels of academia. In addition, we have established partnerships with local and foreign organisations to provide training opportunities for students. “For example, Egypt hosted representatives from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt on a satellite training programme in August 2021. The training was designed to facilitate the launching of a pan-African satellite project named the African Development Satellite Initiative (AfDev-Sat). These partnerships have enabled students to gain practical experience through internships, exchange programmes, and access to advanced research facilities.

Dr Gayane Faye spoke on small satellites’ potential in emerging space nations. According to him, like the rest of the world, growth in the adoption of small satellites has been driven, in part, by growing capabilities and falling costs of small satellites, principally enabled by the miniaturisation of technology for the small satellite platform, increased data processing capabilities, the pervasive presence of GPS enabling location & attitude determination, improvements in-ground system costs and signal processing capabilities, and, the deployment of relatively less expensive commercial off-the-shelf parts.

However, Dr Faye’s statement highlights the need for African countries to broaden their approach to space programs and not limit their focus to just one aspect. While Earth Observation (EO) is undoubtedly an essential component of space programmes, African countries should also pay attention to the satellite communication (satcom) and navigation markets, which represent a significant portion of the space industry. He said, “Satcom and satellite navigation play vital roles in various industries, including telecommunications, broadcasting, transportation, and national security. Satcom provides reliable communication and data transmission, while satellite navigation enables accurate positioning, timing, and navigation services. These services are critical for the functioning of various sectors and can contribute to the socio-economic development of African countries.

Therefore, African countries must invest more in research and development to explore the potential of satcom and satellite navigation. In particular, Dr Faye called for more substantive work in fusing satcom and satellite navigation and positioning services on small satellites. Small satellites offer several advantages, such as lower launch costs, shorter development cycles, and increased flexibility in deployment. By combining satcom and satellite navigation on small satellites, African countries can leverage these advantages and develop cost-effective solutions for various applications.”

Mr Ziyaad Soreefan also spoke about the role of Mauritius’ first nanosatellite (MIR-SAT1) in building a budding ecosystem. As he remarked, Mauritius’ first satellite, the MIR-SAT1, plays a crucial role in building a vibrant space ecosystem with engineering capabilities for subsequent projects. The MIR-SAT1 was designed and built by a team of Mauritian engineers and scientists, with support from international partners. Its successful launch in 2021 marked Mauritius’ entry into the global space community and demonstrated its capacity to develop and operate advanced space technology. “One of the key benefits of having a locally designed and built satellite is the development of engineering expertise and capacity. The experience gained from the MIR-SAT1 project will support future space projects, including developing new satellites, ground infrastructure, and other related technologies. He concluded that this can create new opportunities for the country’s engineering and technical workforce and contribute to the growth of the local space industry.”

The panel was followed by a keynote presentation by Colonel Timothy Daniel Ray, Africa and Americas Division Chief in Air Force International Affairs, United States Air Force. During his speech, Colonel Timothy focused on space security, explaining that space has become vital to modern warfare and national security. 

Colonel Timothy Daniel Ray, Africa and Americas Division Chief in Air Force International Affairs, United States Air Force.

In his comment, he discussed that “satellites are used for various applications, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, communication, and navigation. As such, space assets are valuable national security materials requiring protection from threats such as space debris, cyber-attacks, and anti-satellite weapons. However, the increasing number of satellites and debris in orbit poses a significant challenge to space security. Space congestion can increase the likelihood of collisions, which can generate more debris and cause significant damage to critical space assets. This, in turn, can disrupt essential services and compromise national security. Therefore, as space congestion increases, discussions around space security and the need for effective measures to protect space assets will likely become more prominent in the space ecosystem in the coming decade. This could lead to greater investment in space situational awareness (SSA), debris mitigation, and other space security measures.”

Panel 3: Importance of Space Security in Africa

This panel, moderated by Etim Offiong, Head of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Division, ARCSSTE-E, deliberated on the importance of space security in Africa and explored ways to enhance it.

Etim Offiong, Head of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Division, ARCSSTE-E); Dr Peter Martinez, Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation; Julia Selman Ayetey, Dean of the Faculty of Law, the University of Cape Coast, Ghana and Colonel Timothy Daniel Ray, Africa and Americas Division Chief in Air Force International Affairs, United States Air Force.

Dr Peter Martinez explored space security, focusing on ensuring the security and safety of space assets in the new space age. According to his account, there is currently no international consensus on what constitutes a space weapon. However, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibits placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit, on celestial bodies, or elsewhere in space. Additionally, the Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), was proposed in 2008 to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space. He then submitted that the international community needs to work together to establish clear definitions and regulations around space weapons to avoid an arms race in space. This can involve dialogues and negotiations between countries, cooperation on space situational awareness and developing norms and best practices for responsible behaviour in space.

He also added that it is essential to encourage transparency and information-sharing among spacefaring nations to build confidence and trust in the peaceful use of space. This can include sharing information about spacecraft and launch activities and developing mechanisms for crisis communication and conflict resolution in the event of an incident in space.

While discussing Africa’s participation in space security discussions at the international level, Dr Martinez disclosed that Africa’s participation in space security discussions at the international level has been increasing in recent years with more states’ representations in multilateral forums such as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), which is the primary forum for global space governance.

He noted that in addition to participating in international discussions, more African countries must develop space policies and strategies addressing their nation’s space security concerns. For example, the African Union has created a space policy and strategy focusing on space security and preventing an arms race in space.

In her summary of the same question regarding the participation in space security discussions at the international level, Julia Selman Ayete commented that discussions on space security often focus on the protection of space assets such as satellites, but it is also essential to consider the issue of limiting dependence on foreign products in the African space industry.

As the African space industry grows, Julia noted that ensuring this growth is sustainable and translates to all aspects is crucial. “One way to achieve this is by promoting local manufacturing and production of space components, including satellites, launch vehicles, and ground infrastructure. This can help to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers and improve the reliability and security of the African space industry. Developing local capacity for satellite launching is a key aspect of this. Many African countries currently rely on foreign providers for launching their satellites, which can be costly and limit their ability to control the timing and frequency of their launches. By investing in local launch capabilities, African countries can reduce their dependence on foreign providers and improve their ability to access and utilise space for their needs.”

Colonel Timothy Daniel Ray discussed the need to enhance private sector participation and raise awareness for space security in Africa. From his standpoint, “a holistic space policy encompassing all areas, including space security, would require a comprehensive approach to space governance. Such a policy would include provisions for space exploration, space-based activities, and protecting space assets. Multi-stakeholder conversions would be necessary to develop and shape policies that address the various issues facing space assets. This would involve engaging with multiple actors involved in space activities, including governments, industry, civil society, and the scientific community.

One critical aspect of such a policy would be raising awareness about responsible space activities’ importance. This would involve educating stakeholders on the potential risks associated with space activities and the importance of taking steps to mitigate those risks. A key element of such awareness-raising efforts would be to promote a culture of space safety that encourages responsible behaviour in the design, operation, and disposal of space assets. In addition, incorporating non-compliance coping mechanisms would be necessary to ensure compliance with the policy. This would include developing appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks to govern space activities and tools to enforce compliance with these frameworks. Additionally, the policy should include provisions for dispute resolution and mechanisms for addressing non-compliance issues.”

Panel 4: AU-EU Roundtable on Space Cooperation

This panel, moderated by Professor Cheikh Mbow, Director-General Ecological Monitoring Center (CSE), Is an avenue for stakeholders from the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) to discuss and collaborate on space-related activities. The roundtable aimed to enhance cooperation and build capacity in space-related areas such as satellite communication, Earth observation, space science, and technology.

Professor Cheikh Mbow, Director-General of Ecological Monitoring Center (CSE); Dr Gayane Faye, Director of the Applied Remote Sensing Laboratory, University of Cheick Anta Diop, Senegal; Monica Miguel-Lago, Senior Project Manager, European Association of Remote Sensing Companies; Donati Cecilia, Policy Officer Space cooperation, European Commission; Dr Tidiane Ouattara African Union Commission Space Science Expert, GMES & Africa Programme Coordinator; Mr Semou Diouf, Director at SatNav Africa Joint Programme Office; Dr Jane Bemigisha, Executive Director, ESIPPS International Ltd; and Giuseppe Borghi, Head of the Phi-Lab Division at the European Space Agency.

Regarding the positive outcomes of collaboration between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) in Earth observation, Dr Tidianne noted that the EU’s Copernicus programme has partnered with the African Union to provide free access to its satellite data for African countries. This has helped African countries monitor land use, track deforestation, monitor natural resources and disasters, and improve food security and agriculture. Furthermore, he disclosed that the EU has partnered with the African Union to launch the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa programme, providing EUR 45 million to actualise the initiative to strengthen the capacity of African countries in using Earth observation data for sustainable development, natural resources management, and disaster risk reduction. Dr Tidianed discussed the highlights of the first phase, including training over 10,000 people and engaging more than 40 African institutions, including the private sector, in implementing the programme’s objectives.

Monica Miguel-Lago and Giuseppe Borghi illuminated some critical partnerships between the ESA and Africa focused on leveraging space-based applications for sustainable development. In his comment, he noted that ESA and Africa have collaborated in several space thematic areas as it significantly addresses many global challenges, such as climate change, food security, and natural resource management. “According to Giuseppe, “We expect that once the African space agency becomes operational, it will result in more substantial partnerships and certainly provide opportunities for further growth and development in the space industry, leading to shared knowledge and resources, which can help to advance space exploration and technology. It is also important for both parties to include end-users in developing space products. This ensures that the solutions developed are tailored to the specific needs of the people using them. By involving end-users, the development process can be more efficient and effective, leading to better outcomes. It’s important to remember that technology alone cannot solve all our challenges – it needs to be developed and implemented with the end-user in mind.”

While discussing the need for a holistic approach to the space ecosystem, Giuseppe Borghi noted that such a method is essential to ensure its sustainability and long-term success. According to them, “space exploration and utilisation have numerous facets, including scientific research, commercial opportunities, and national security. Therefore, it is crucial to consider all aspects of the space ecosystem and how they interact. Moreover, promoting a pan-African approach to space exploration and utilisation can help foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing among African countries. By working together, African countries can leverage their collective resources and expertise to achieve common goals and overcome shared challenges. This approach can also help promote a more equitable and inclusive space ecosystem in Africa, where all countries can benefit from the opportunities that space presents.”

“Also, a symbiotic approach to space exploration and utilisation can help ensure that all stakeholders benefit from the outcomes of their activities. This approach emphasises the importance of balancing the interests of different stakeholders, including governments, private industry, and civil society, to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. By adopting a symbiotic approach, we can create a sustainable and prosperous space ecosystem that benefits everyone involved,” Giuseppe concluded.

Semou Diouf discussed the role of intercontinental partnerships in developing Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) services in Africa.  He explained that “Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) services are essential for various applications, including navigation, positioning, and timing. However, developing and deploying GNSS services in Africa have been relatively slow due to several challenges, including limited infrastructure, inadequate technical expertise, and limited funding.

Cecilia and Semou concluded that one potential solution to these challenges has been through intercontinental partnerships, which helps avoid reinventing the wheel. One example of such a partnership is the European Union’s (EU) contribution to the African Union’s (AU) GNSS project called African Regional Navigation Satellite System (ARNS). The ARNS project aims to develop a GNSS system for the African continent, enhancing Africa’s economic development, safety, and security. The EU has contributed significantly to the ARNS project, providing technical expertise, funding, and infrastructure support. Through this partnership, African countries can access advanced technologies and knowledge they may not have had otherwise.”

Dr Jane discussed the need for more partnerships between space actors of both regions, noting that it is common for private companies in Africa to partner with European companies for EO (Earth Observation) programmes or projects. “Partnering with European companies can bring several benefits to African companies, such as access to advanced technology, expertise, and funding”. She concluded that European companies often have access to more advanced and sophisticated Earth Observation technologies than African companies, and they can provide valuable technical support to African partners.

Dr Gaye also spoke about the importance of regional collaboration, highlighting GMES and Africa as an initiative recognising the private sector’s involvement is crucial for such efforts’ success, as private companies can bring their expertise, resources, and innovative solutions to bear on Africa’s challenges. He said, “By leveraging the latest research and innovation in EO data, private companies can help develop innovative solutions that can make a real difference in people’s lives. At the same time, private companies can benefit from the opportunities presented by the African market, which is increasing and offers a wealth of untapped potential.

Overall, the involvement of the private sector in initiatives like GMES and Africa is critical for ensuring that sustainable development goals are met in Africa. By working together, private companies and other stakeholders can help to create a brighter future for the continent and its people.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

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