Excerpts from the 2024 NewSpace Africa Conference; Day One

Cross-section of attendees at the 2024 NewSpace Africa Conference

Space in Africa, in conjunction with the African Union Commission and the Angola National Space Programme Management Office, under the auspices of the Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication (MINTTIC), is convening the 2024 NewSpace Conference from 2 to 5 April 2024 at the Talatona Convention Centre, Luanda, Angola. 

The high-level gathering of public and private space actors across the continent and beyond records over 500 delegates from 257 organisations, including African and foreign government officials, ministry representatives, heads of national space agencies and NewSpace companies, policymakers, investment firms and students.

Cross-section of attendees at the conference

The four-day event, themed “The Role of Space in Closing Africa’s Poverty Gap,” will showcase diverse sessions throughout the four days, including four keynote addresses, 19 panel discussions, interactive breakout sessions, B2B, B2C, and B2G matchmaking sessions, exhibitions, agreement signing, and unique networking opportunities. 

Furthermore, the first day saw the participation of several dignitaries, including H.E Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira, Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies, and Social Communication (MINTTICS), Angola; H.E Maria do Rosário Bragança Sambo, Angolan Minister of Universities and Higher Education, Innovation; H.E. Ms Luísa Grilo, Angolan Minister of Education; Professor Mohammed Belhocine, Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI) of the African Union; Dr Tidiane Ouattara, President of the African Space Council; Dr Zolana João, General Manager, Angola’s National Space Programme Management Office (GGPEN) and Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce. In addition, heads of space agencies from Angola, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe will be on the ground to provide updates on their respective nation’s space activities.

The opening day has set the stage for a genuinely engaging and exciting atmosphere for developing and sustaining relationships with various African space and satellite industry stakeholders. Following the conference agenda, the event kickstarted with welcome remarks by Temidayo Oniosun, Managing Director, Space in Africa; Dr Zolana Joao, General Manager, Angolan National Management Programme Office (GGPEN); Professor Mohammed Belhocine, Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI) of the African Union; and H.E Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira, Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication, Angola (MINTTIC).

In his opening address, Temidayo Oniosun reported that Space in Africa inaugurated the NewSpace Africa Conference to accelerate the growth of the African Space Industry and foster new relationships with stakeholders globally. Since its establishment in 2022 (in Kenya), the conference has been instrumental in driving the agenda of utilising space technology to tackle Africa’s pressing challenges.

Temidayo Oniosun, Managing Director, Space in Africa, delivering his welcome address

According to Mr Oniosun, each year has witnessed increasing momentum behind Africa’s space endeavours, driven by the dedication of individuals and organisations continent-wide and beyond. Mr Oniosun highlighted that for the third consecutive year, the conference remains a pivotal platform for providing updates across all industry sectors, highlighting new business prospects, technological advancements, policy shifts, strategic initiatives, new programmes, investment opportunities, and other crucial development areas within the industry value chain.

For his welcome address, Dr Zolana expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in organising the conference and highlighted the MINTTIC Minister’s vision to position Angola as a powerhouse in the space sector, not only in Southern Africa but also across the continent and globally. Referring to the theme “The Role of Space in Closing Africa’s Poverty Gap,” Dr Zolana emphasised that it resonates with their agency’s mission. He firmly asserted their belief that by leveraging space technology, Africans are better positioned to unlock opportunities and promote sustainable development that uplifts communities and diminishes socioeconomic disparities.

Dr Zolana Joao, General Manager, Angolan National Management Programme Office (GGPEN), delivering his opening address.

For his part, Professor Belhocine expressed his gratitude to the organisers, the host, Angola, and all the participating organisations at the event. He mentioned that part of the resolution from the 2023 NewSpace Conference in Abidjan was establishing a regional space council. Since then, they have completed the constitution process for the council. Professor Belhocine thanked the council members who had undergone a rigorous selection process. He then updated everyone on the African Space Agency (AfSA), stating they had secured council membership and representation on regional committees overseeing the selection process. 

Professor Mohammed Belhocine, Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI) of the African Union, delivering his opening address

Additionally, he mentioned the new AU-EU space partnership and the US-Africa collaboration, which would be discussed in panels during the conference. Professor Belhocine further stated that the AUC had mandated his department to diversify their collaborations and are thus open to partnering with other regions. He mentioned contacts made with China, Japan, and Tokyo, among other interested regions. He hoped these collaborations would help bridge technological gaps within the continent.

In his address,  Mr Mário Oliveira discussed the development of the technological and digital economy in Angola, noting investments made to modernise the digital space in the state. He mentioned establishing a short-term plan from 2023 to 2027 and a long-term one until 2050 to ensure that Angola plays a significant global role. Highlighting Angola’s role in the SADC region, the Minister mentioned the launch of ANGOSAT-2 to enhance communication access and leading the SADC satellite sharing committee to strengthen satellite development in Africa. He emphasised Angola’s efforts in radio frequency authorisation and orbit allocations at conferences such as the WRC and ITU, aiming to guarantee Southern Africa’s presence in the satellite industry. Furthermore, Mr Mário Oliveira discussed the inauguration of Connecta Angola as a flagship project utilising the ANGOSATE-2 to enhance digital literacy, particularly in rural areas. He mentioned providing applications serving various sectors like oil and gas and agriculture. 

H.E Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira, Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication, Angola (MINTTIC), delivering his opening address

In November 2023, Angola signed the Artemis Accord, and Mr Mário Oliveira stated intentions to sign more strategic agreements at regional and global levels for different applications, including communication and EO, to promote scientific access to research and technology. Finally, he expressed optimism that hosting the event would facilitate mutual growth by sharing advancements and learning from leaders and specialists, ultimately limiting duplication and fostering rapid growth. He concluded by declaring the event open.

Shortly after his presentation, Dr Tidiane Ouattara, President of the African Space Council and the African Union Commission Space Science Expert, GMES & Africa Programme Coordinator, gave a keynote on the African Outer Space Programme, introducing the newly formed African Space Agency (AfSA) structure. He extensively discussed the agency’s establishment, mandate, objectives, and functions.

Dr Tidiane Ouattara presenting updates on the African Outer Space Programme.

Check here to read the status update on the African Outer Space Programme.

Following Dr Tidianne’s presentation, Space in Africa’s Managing Director, Temidayo Oniosun, alongside Joseph Ibeh, Chief Growth Officer, Space in Africa, took the stage to present a market briefing of the African space ecosystem, highlighting fundamental trends to lay important background insights to guide participation at the event and to serve as a critical tool for decision-makers to capitalise on. 

The market debrief session was followed by the Ministerial panel, moderated by Asanda Sangoni, Space and Stakeholder Liaison Specialist, South African National Space Agency featured panellist, including  Mr Mário Augusto da Silva Oliveira, Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication, Angola; Professor Mohammed Belhocine, ESTI Commissioner of the African Union; Dr Ouattara Frédéric, Project Lead, BurkinaSAT-1, Ministry of Higher Education, Burkina Faso; and Prof Islam El-Magd, President, National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences, Egypt, Special Advisor to the Minister. They took turns to discuss best practices for the African space ecosystem’s strategic direction and priorities.

Cross-section of speakers on the ministerial panel

While responding to inquiries about the strategic vision of the Angolan government regarding its investment in space technology, Mr Mário Oliveira outlined the government’s strategic vision 15 years ago. This vision initiated the development of Angola’s space programme to align with national priorities, particularly enhancing digital inclusion. This vision led to the launch of ANGOSAT-2. Furthermore, Mr Mário Oliveira mentioned plans for an EO satellite, citing Angola’s abundant natural resources such as oil and agriculture, and environmental concerns like deforestation. He highlighted the importance of EO technology in better managing these resources and ensuring border security, emphasising that these factors are significant motivations behind Angola’s space programme.

Mr Mário Oliveira also discussed the importance of policy and legal frameworks to attract the commercial market, referencing Angola’s white book and national development plan, which include telecommunications and information as key components of the space programme. He emphasised an open market approach, recognising the role of the commercial market and mentioning initiatives such as visa exemptions for over 90 countries’ business and investment opportunities.

While responding to the request for a progress report on AUC-led initiatives to develop the African space ecosystem, Professor Mohammed Belhocine highlighted the AUC’s inauguration of the African Space Agency (AfSA) in January 2023 and the signing of the host agreement for AfSA in June 2023 in Egypt. Additionally, he mentioned the AUC’s election of members to the African Space Council in February 2024. Professor Belhocine emphasised AUC’s efforts in establishing the Advisory Committee of the African Space Council and the election of a Director-General for the space agency.

Elected members of the African Space Council

He further discussed AUC’s commitment to the regional collaboration to avoid duplication of efforts, citing the GMES and Africa programme with the EU targeting Earth Observation for collaboration. This initiative has resulted in a network of 200 institutions from 45 countries, including academic and research organisations, and more than 40 universities, facilitating knowledge sharing across the continent. Beyond technological and capacity-building aspects, Professor Belhocine believes that these partnerships between African states serve as a building block for peace and cooperation.

While addressing the motivations and strategic objectives behind Burkina Faso’s first satellite, BurkinaSAT-1, and how it fits within the broader framework of the nation’s space agenda, Dr Ouattara Frédéric outlined the plan to use satellite data for Burkina Faso’s economic development, emphasising its role in achieving the nation’s sustainable development goals. He intended to leverage satellite data for various sectors, including agriculture.

Dr Ouattara elaborated on the long-term plan of Burkina Faso’s space programme, which involves training students through various initiatives. He mentioned a specific focus on space segment training, where students are trained to assemble and integrate CubeSats. Additionally, he highlighted training in ground station operations, involving 15 students who build the necessary infrastructure and understand the software required to operationalise satellites from the ground station. 

Highlighting initiatives or programmes initiated by the Egyptian government to enable the cross-border utilisation of Egypt’s satellite AIT facility for satellite projects by other nations, Prof Islam El-Magd mentioned that Egypt had to build its infrastructure. Still, one key element is that it will be available to all countries. The AIT facility can integrate satellites weighing up to 1000kg, and different labs support the construction of various subsystems. Prof Islam affirmed that these facilities would be part of the sharing policy for all other countries and that they played a vital role in the discussions on getting the hosting right for the African Space Agency. 

Status Updates on African Space Agencies’ Activities – Cohort 1

The first head of the space agency panel featured Dr Zolana Joao, General Manager of GGPEN; Mr Humbulani Mudau, CEO of the South African National Space Agency; Dr Halilu Shaba, Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency; and Amin Mestar, Secretary-General of the Algerian Space Agency.

Cross-section of speakers on the panel

While providing updates on the SADC satellite-sharing programme, including the implementation timeline, Dr Zolana reported that they have recovered over 90% of their orbital positions in the SADC region on behalf of its member states. When asked about the operationalisation of the SADC regional satellite sharing initiative, he mentioned that one challenge they face is the need for more skills across the continent. Dr Zolana emphasised the need for about 4 to 5 years to regroup, re-strategize, and understand the intricacies involved before making any decisions regarding the initiative.

While discussing the specific policies or initiatives the South African government is implementing to foster collaboration between its space programme and the private sector, particularly NewSpace companies, to drive innovation and economic growth, Mr Mudau highlighted the significant success of the emergence of commercial sector players in the space industry, who are making remarkable advancements. He discussed specific initiatives where the government supports the NewSpace ecosystem and what other countries can learn from them. He emphasised convincing people that the return on investment (ROI) is crucial to building a successful business. Angola has a dynamic industry downstream and upstream, where satellites are designed and built. Mr Mudau suggested that countries consider a pan-African satellite constellation, where everyone collaborates seamlessly to construct the infrastructure, thus creating the requisite capacity. Other nations can learn from Angola’s focus on ROI, fostering a dynamic industry, and promoting collaboration for regional infrastructure development in the space sector.

While discussing how NASRDA collaborates with other government agencies and industries to maximise the societal benefits of space applications, Dr Shaba highlighted Angola’s practice of sharing data with various institutions, including the DSA (Defence Space Administration), universities, and students. He mentioned that local governments sometimes approach them to provide solutions for multiple programmes, demonstrating their role in addressing diverse challenges. Dr Shaba emphasised the importance of building bridges to understand the needs of different Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and how to offer assistance across various sectors. According to him, this approach is a testament to NASRDA’s commitment to collaboration and problem-solving within the country.

While discussing the Algerian Space Programme’s plan, especially regarding the country’s 2040 space vision, Mr Mestar noted that the government built the infrastructure and projects under the former national space programme (PSN 2006-2020). However, he highlighted that the Algerian Space Agency now must overcome the challenge of finding a suitable approach to fundraising after the government’s initial five years of financial backing for the newly adopted national space programme (PSN 2020-2024). He said this would kickstart the transition from government-funded initiatives to a more self-sustainable funding model for space programmes in Algeria.

Panel 1: Data, Earth Observation and Sustainable Development

This panel session, moderated by Njeri Maina, Director of Business Development, Africa, Arusha Space, discussed how the increased use of Earth observation in Africa over the next decade will promote sustainability across sectors. It centres on how expanding satellite monitoring of crops, weather, and environmental changes can inform climate-smart agriculture, food security planning, and disaster response.

The panel featured panellists, including Fabrice Rodriguez, Head of Geospatial Sales Africa, Middle East; Head of Worldwide Resellers, Integrated Space Solutions; Stefan De Klerk, CFO, Pinkmatter; Helena Correia Mendonça, Principal Consultant, Vieira de Almeida, and Nabil Ben Khatra, Executive Secretary, Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel.

Cross-section of speakers on the panel

Fabrice discussed Airbus’ specific challenges in deploying satellite-based monitoring solutions for natural resource management in different African regions. According to him, Airbus has been involved in satellite programmes since the 1980s, including the SPOT image sales on the continent. He discussed regulatory hurdles when moving from one country to another. Additionally, Mr. Oniosun highlighted education and capacity building as significant issues in Africa. He provided an example of collaboration with GGPEN to train individuals to analyse satellite data as a strategy for mitigating such issues. He noted that the training resulted in various applications such as technology, ecology and management.

Stefan discussed innovative financing models or investment strategies that Pinkmatter and other companies in this space explore to make geospatial solutions more accessible and affordable for smallholder farmers and rural communities in Africa. He highlighted using a subscription model to make satellite services more affordable rather than requiring an initial investment. He suggested that making it easier for companies and countries to access satellite services would improve adoption rates. Additionally, Stefan mentioned the concept of governments acting as anchor tenants, where they commit to using most satellite services, thus providing stability and revenue for satellite providers.

Helena discussed the critical considerations for enabling effective data sharing and collaboration among stakeholders involved in Earth observation initiatives in Africa, specifically on promoting open data access and addressing concerns around data privacy, intellectual property rights, and national security from a legal and regulatory standpoint. Helena emphasised the importance of developing critical contracts for data sharing when undertaking projects in the space sector. She emphasised the need to address the type of data being shared and the potential liabilities associated with its use, considering the long-term implications. Helena stressed the necessity of creating contracts that facilitate a symbiotic relationship, allowing all parties involved to come together quickly. Furthermore, she highlighted the importance of examining compliance issues and data theft concerns, viewing laws as instruments promoting data sharing. While acknowledging that each country may have different legal frameworks, Helena pointed out that there are commonalities in regional laws and shared needs that should be considered when drafting contracts for data-sharing agreements.

Nabil Ben Khatra highlighted the crucial role of remote sensing Earth Observation (EO) data in various applications directly impacting the fight against poverty. He emphasised the need to utilise available data more effectively to support technical efforts in implementing development initiatives at every level. Mr Nabil mentioned ongoing efforts with all 26 countries to ensure experiential learning, allowing them to learn through practical project implementation. Additionally, he stressed the importance of ethical considerations in data usage to overcome challenges effectively, citing that sustainable methods must be developed to navigate these issues and ensure responsible and impactful use of data in addressing developmental challenges in Africa.

Panel 2: Satellite Solutions for Agricultural Transformation and  Food Security in Africa

This panel session, moderated by Luciano Lupedia, Head of the Space Application Development Department, Angolan Space Programme Management Office (GGPEN), reviewed how satellite technology can revolutionise agriculture in Africa. The speakers highlighted how leveraging satellites for precision farming, weather monitoring, and crop yield optimisation can drive sustainable agricultural transformation across the continent.

The panel featured panellists, including Guillermo Roselló, Chief Commercial Officer, SATLANTIS; Prof Sias Mostert, CEO, SCS Space; Dr Nkurunziza Emmanuel, Managing Director, Regional Centre For Mapping Of Resources For Development; Semou Diouf Director, SatNav Africa Joint Programme Office and Henri Danon, Deputy Director of the Digital Intelligence, Ministry of Digital Transition and Digitisation in Cote d’Ivoire.

Cross-section of speakers on the panel

Guillermo explained SATLANTIS’ approach to developing solutions that enable farmers and stakeholders to monitor crop health, detect stress factors, and forecast yield potential in Africa. Guillermo discussed their approach to utilising multispectral images and designing satellites tailored to meet specific customer needs, mainly focusing on small satellite models to provide high revisit times for particular areas. He emphasised their commitment to delivering solutions based on individual customer requirements, ensuring better agricultural sustainability across countries. For example, farmers can leverage large swath imagery with various panchromatic modes to analyse farm issues and develop solutions accordingly. Roselló also highlighted SATLANTIS efforts in capacity development within their organisation and expressed a desire to partner with countries, particularly their universities, to train them in utilising these solutions effectively. Additionally, he emphasised the importance of improved funding and political support from governments to enhance the implementation of such initiatives in Africa.

Prof Mostert discussed SCS Space’s approach to leveraging satellite data and technology to support sustainable farming practices, such as agricultural policies and insurance claims, forestry process and management of water levels in Africa. He emphasised the importance of building satellites and effectively linking them to operational applications. He highlighted their focus on addressing the needs of small-scale farmers by covering regions with boundaries as small as 50 metres. They utilise 5-metre multispectral data to understand current and potential issues facing these farmers and develop strategies to mitigate them. Additionally, Professor Mostert mentioned their plans to incorporate 30-centimetre hyperspectral imagery, providing even more detailed and comprehensive data for analysis and decision-making in agricultural applications. This approach reflects their commitment to leveraging advanced satellite technology to address specific challenges small-scale farmers face.

Dr Emmanuel discussed RCMRD’s initiatives and projects that leverage satellite data and mapping for agricultural applications in its member states. He discussed leveraging satellite data for mapping agricultural landscapes, recognising that many countries in the region are agricultural and heavily rely on agriculture for sustainability. He mentioned ongoing projects for forecasting soil conditions and highlighted their GIS capabilities and data handling capacities. Dr Emmanuel emphasised the need for soil databases to enable precision agriculture, citing collaboration with the Kenyan government to develop similar solutions to improve agricultural practices in the country. Furthermore, Dr Emmanuel mentioned their work in crop yield monitoring, mainly focusing on staple crops, and their efforts to develop AI models to extend this monitoring to other crops. He explained that their work aims to assist farmers and insurance companies understand why crop losses occur, particularly due to climate change impacts, thus enabling better risk management. Dr Emmanuel also mentioned the development of a Geo portal with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed at providing yield predictions to help countries anticipate expected yields and plan accordingly for resilience measures. This initiative underscores their commitment to leveraging satellite data and technology for agricultural development and resilience in the face of climate change.

While discussing initiatives leveraging satellite data for agricultural applications in Côte d’Ivoire,  Henri Danon discussed using satellite technology simplified into local languages for farmers. Solutions are disseminated via calls and texts to farmers through agricultural extension agents who undergo specific training. These agents receive information on weather, climate, and other critical crop production data points. This initiative aims to help farmers in Ivory Coast effectively prepare for planting, pre-planting, and post-planting operations. Danon mentioned collaboration with various local agencies to ensure this data reaches as many people as possible, underscoring the importance of leveraging satellite data to benefit agricultural communities. This approach reflects a commitment to democratising access to critical agricultural information and empowering farmers with the knowledge needed to enhance productivity and resilience.

Mr Semou Diouf discussed the application of Earth Observation (EO) and satellite navigation technologies in agricultural applications, particularly emphasising precision agriculture. He highlighted the potential benefits of these technologies in optimising agricultural practices, improving efficiency, and ultimately increasing productivity. Additionally, Mr Diouf expressed his desire to go beyond technical aspects and focus on how Africans can capitalise on this technology to create business opportunities. He emphasised the importance of adopting advanced technologies and leveraging them effectively to stimulate economic growth and entrepreneurship within African communities. This reflects a forward-thinking approach that seeks to harness the full potential of EO and satellite navigation technologies for socioeconomic development in the region.

All panellists advocated for promoting youth entrepreneurship, and there was widespread agreement among them regarding the importance of African capacity to support this transformation in the priority sector.

Panel 3: International Perspective on Space Development in Africa

This panel, moderated by Meshack Ndiritu, Space Applications Trainer, ESTI-AUC, analysed the international perspective on space development in Africa, recognising the continent’s immense potential. It will focus on collaborative capacity building through partnerships between African space entities and global allies. The panellists will discuss Africa’s advantages for launch, operations, and ground stations, as well as the use of space tech for sustainability challenges.

The panel featured panellists, including Dr Benjamin Koetz, Head of Sustainable Initiatives Office, European Space Agency; Gabriel Swiney, Director, Policy, Advocacy, and International Division, Office of Space Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce; Tetsuhito Fuse, Associate Professor at Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech); and Dr Zhao Ye, Optical Engineer, DFH SAT, CAST.

Cross-section of speakers on the panel

Dr Benjamin Koetz discussed initiatives led by foreign organisations to facilitate capacity transfer, technological growth, and utilisation in Africa. Specifically, he highlighted the TIGER initiative, which has been established to promote using Earth Observation (EO) for enhanced Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Africa. The initiative has been operational for over a decade and supports capacity-building activities and development projects involving 42 African countries. This initiative underscores the commitment of foreign organisations to contribute to capacity development and technological advancement in Africa, particularly in critical sectors such as water resource management.

He further emphasised the European Space Agency’s (ESA) efforts in Africa, particularly establishing ESA’s incubator centres across the continent. These centres are designed to foster scientific advancement and growth by providing support through matchmaking processes, challenges, competitions, and grants. These initiatives aim to equip participants with essential capacity-building skills, fostering regional innovation and entrepreneurship. Moreover, Dr. Benjamin highlighted the European government’s collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) to implement strategic programmes in space-related fields such as telecommunications, Earth observation, astronomy, and navigation. These programmes ensure inclusive growth globally by enhancing expertise and capabilities in these critical sectors. Additionally, the European Space Agency is organising the 2024 EO for Africa Symposium in partnership with various stakeholders, including the AUC, the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE), the European Commission (EC), the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This symposium, scheduled for September, reflects the commitment of both European and African organisations to collaborate and advance Earth observation capabilities to benefit Africa’s development.

Tetsuhito Fuse highlighted the significant engagement of the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) with Africa, underscoring the importance of creating capacity-building programmes and initiatives in collaboration with various stakeholders such as academia, industry, research institutes, and organisations. This partnership has inspired the university to collaborate with African nations, aiming to support the sustained growth witnessed on the continent over the past two to three years. Kyutech aims to contribute to Africa’s development and strengthen ties between Japan and African countries by fostering partnerships and investing in capacity-building efforts.

Gabriel emphasised the critical importance of GPS and GNSS in their ecosystem. He noted that the USA generates scientific data on space weather and climate change, which is freely available to Africa. The US also cooperates with African countries by offering training programmes. Other initiatives mentioned include SEVIR and the Artemis Accords, which are tailored to allow African countries to participate in relevant discussions and benefit from collaborative efforts.

Benjamin highlighted the importance of African countries as relevant key stakeholders in capacity utilisation programmes. He cited an example with Gabon, where antennas are utilised to trace launches across Africa, and ground stations are set up to mirror data to ensure availability and consistency. Gabriel mentioned SANSA’s long-standing relationship with the US, which is critical to the Artemis Accords due to its powerful downlink antennas, which are helpful for essential communications for lunar missions. This demonstrates the numerous ways the US and Africa are in perfect sync.

However, as a word of caution, Benjamin noted that African countries must redirect their desires for a spaceport and focus instead on localised solutions that work and advance economic growth. This highlights the importance of prioritising practical and sustainable initiatives benefiting African nations.

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