The French national space agency, Centre National d’études Spatiales (CNES), and the Senegalese Ministry for Higher Education, Research, and Innovation signed a space cooperation roadmap during the visit of CNES President, Jean-Yves Le Gall, to Dakar, Senegal, on 12 December 2019 to take partake in the events marking the 60th anniversary of the Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA).
The new roadmap enables France and Senegal to collaborate in the areas of Earth observation, the use of satellite imagery and applications to study ecosystems, human capacity development and the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.
Both parties agreed to meet in the first half of 2020 for a seminar that will bring together French and Senegalese stakeholders as a step to actualizing their space cooperation goals.
Addressing an audience of key industry leaders and policymakers from ASECNA member states and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Le Gall highlighted France’s commitment to supporting the aviation sector in Africa with space assets, emphasizing Europe’s involvement through the EGNOS in Africa Programme which is focused on implementing an operational satellite-based augmentation system for air navigation in Africa.
They also discussed the need for a Space Climate Observatory (SCO) with the goal of getting more nations to unite their efforts to tackle climate change using space assets.
Following the recommendations of the national consultations on the future of higher education in Senegal, the Government of Senegal in March 2019 signed two agreements with CNES and French aerospace giant Ariane Group to grow the nation’s capability in the development of small satellites and space applications
In July 2019, Senegal announced plans to launch its first nanosatellite into space by 2021 in collaboration with the University Space Centre of Montpellier (CSUM). The West African nation also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ariane Group to identify the different possible cooperation schemes for the establishment of satellite manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing (MAIT) facilities in Senegal for the development of CubeSats.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.