European institutional decision-makers and space industry leaders will join their African counterparts on stage at the ongoing 12th European Space Conference to discuss the future of Europe-Africa in space.
The space-themed Conference kicked off today in Brussels, Belgium. Attendees of the conference include over 1,000 policymakers, space industry leaders in Europe and their partners outside Europe, who have gathered to chart the future of the European space industry and other regions and partners that form an integral part of the said future.
One of the focal sessions at the Conference dubbed, “Towards a Space Partnership between Europe and Africa”, is dedicated to charting a future for Afro-Europe relationship in space. The session will feature guest speakers such as Manuel Heitor, Portugal’s Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, European Commission.
The Africa-focused session will also feature a roundtable discussion comprising of notable industry leaders, including Magdy Tantawy, Director of the Technical Steering Committee, Egyptian Space Agency; Driss el-Hadani Director, Royal Centre for Remote Sensing (CRTS), Morocco; Christine Leurquin, Vice-President, Institutional Relations, SES; Aboubakar Mambimba, Director-General, Gabonese Agency for Space Studies and Observations; Tidiane Ouattara, Coordinator, GMES & Africa Support Programme, African Union; Matthias Petschke, Director Space, DG DEFIS, European Commission; Giulio Ranzo, CEO, Avio; and Kyle Whitehill, Vice-Chair, ESOA – CEO Avanti Communications.
Europe is Africa’s foremost partner in the space industry with Europe’s top satellite manufacturers: Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space and launch provider, Arianespace, closing the most satellite manufacturing and launch deals in Africa, above Russian, Chinese and Japanese rivals.
Europe-Africa relations in space further spans satellite deals to include downstream commercial satellite services with Europe’s leading operators such as Avanti, Eutelsat, Intelsat and SES being very active in the African satellite services and communications market.
Other European programs such as Copernicus and Gallileo have also measured considerable success in Africa, endearing continued European participation in shaping Africa’s adoption of space technologies. They have further attracted European investments on the continent through programs such as the GMES and Africa, EGNOS in Africa Support Programme, and a host of other joint programs in space science research and astronomy.
While the Conference in Belgium is a platform for a dialogue on Europe-Africa space cooperation, it is important to point out that Europe is not the only African partner having the conversation about shaping its space future with the continent. In the past few years, space has formed a vital conversation in bilateral and multilateral talks between African countries and their allies such as China, Russia, India, Japan and Ukraine. It is interesting to observe as the conversation around space cooperation becomes a vital facet of Africa’s diplomatic and development relations with the developed nations and other regions.
Space in Africa will bring you further update as the conversation in Belgium unfolds.
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.