Senior officials of the UK Space Agency, led by its Chief Executive Officer Dr Graham Turnock, are in South Africa to discuss bilateral collaboration with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA).
SANSA CEO Dr Valanathan Munsami took to Twitter to announce the bilateral talk between his team and their UK counterparts.
SANSA in bilateral discussion with the UK Space Agency. Welcome to Dr Turnock (CEO OF UK Space Agency) and his team and looking forward to strengthening our partnership. pic.twitter.com/grIcMFQiZp
— Valanathan Munsami (@ValanathanM) August 2, 2019
South Africa and the United Kingdom have a long history of bilateral space cooperation. In July 2015, both countries signed a landmark bilateral agreement for reciprocal exchanges in the peaceful use of space in addressing climate change and the development of space weather models.
The agreement signed on 16 July 2015 in Pretoria made arrangements for UKSA and SANSA to share infrastructure and knowledge in various fields, including the application of space for sustainable development, weather monitoring, climate studies and satellite information. The agreement made provision for member-states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to access satellite data from UK’s NovaSar radar mission through SANSA.
Collaboration between South Africa and the UK in space exploration transcends cooperation between SANSA and UKSA. Private space companies in both countries have built on the bilateral space agreement to expand their operations and markets. Some South African companies such as NewSpace Systems have subsidiaries in the UK, and vice versa.
More recently, both nations agreed to collaborate in building a constellation of nanosatellites to detect wildfires and improve early warning systems. The project, which is known as the FireSat Constellations, involves SANSA, UKSA and a host of newspace companies and universities such as UK’s Clyde Space and South Africa’s Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Amaya Space, among others.
The ongoing bilateral discussion between both parties will help strengthen their bilateral cooperation in sharing satellite data and planning infrastructure developments for space exploration.
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.