In a bid to cut down on the huge charges that come with the provision of satellite data, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has secured a cost-effective satellite data deal on behalf of the South African government.
Mapping human settlements, monitoring forestry and crop cover, managing water resources, disaster management, and spatial planning for electrification and other infrastructure services are functions that require satellite imagery, and when satellite services are provided to government departments and agencies, they usually come with high costs.
According to Andiswa Mlisa, Managing Director of Earth Observation at SANSA, “we are maximising the government funding allocations. If one government department has already spent money on imagery, there is no reason for other departments to spend the same amount of money for the same imagery.”
“In 2006, the South African government, through the CSIR’s Satellite Applications Centre, acquired a licence to obtain satellite imagery from the SPOT satellite, owned and operated by Airbus Defense and Space Systems. The agreement allowed South Africa to buy a single licence for multiple users within the government and research community, as opposed to the existing one-licence-one-user arrangement,” notes a statement by SANSA.
SANSA has now signed new deals with service providers such as Airbus and DigitalGlobe, in order to access more data.
Government agencies and departments can approach SANSA for lower prices instead of directly approaching service providers, as opposed to the previous practice where individuals and state bodies would have to buy the same data multiple times and pay the same amount for it.
The new deal also means that agencies and organisations that consume a lot of satellite data, no longer have to buy data exclusively for themselves, but can contribute with other big players to buying data for the whole country, thereby cutting costs across the board.
Jerry Chiemeke is an editor, writer and mental health advocate. His works have appeared in Bellanaija, True Nollywood Stories, Music In Africa and The Guardian, among others. Jerry is the winner of the 2017 Ken Saro Wiwa Prize for Reviews. He is a Senior Editor at Space in Africa.