The National Space Program Management Office (GGPEN), established in 2010, is the government agency tasked with overseeing the Angola space program and activities. Its duties include promoting the peaceful use of space, establishing cooperation agreements with technical and scientific institutions in the space industry, and capacity building and knowledge sharing to the Angolan people.
Furthermore, GGPEN coordinates the country’s space activities at the national and international level, manages human capital, and evaluates the institutions that will integrate the national space program. It also creates the conditions for monitoring the production, launch and operation of the Angolan ANGOSAT satellite. In addition, the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information and Communications Technologies is responsible for regulating the affairs of the GGPEN. Dr Zolana Joao is the incumbent General Director of GGPEN and has held the position since 2014.
The presidential decree approved the Angola National Space Strategy plan for 2016-2025 on the 10th of May, 2017. The strategy is a very ambitious programme that focuses on measures the country plans to use space technologies and applications for the nation’s socio-economic benefits and reinforce Angola’s regional and international positioning. The Angola National Space Strategy doubles down on five main pillars:
- Development of space infrastructure: The strategy plans to build communication satellites and ground stations, Earth observation satellites, navigation and positioning, orbital slots, and achieve Angola’s space autonomy.
- Capacity building programs: For this, the strategy outline four programs, including the national space capacity building and certification programme, the Centro Angolano de Estudos Espaciais – Angolan Centre for Space Studies, the promotion of the use of space applications across the public and private sectors, and the space activities promotion programme.
- Growth of the Angolan space industry: The strategy outlines the approaches to realising the creation and development of a thriving space industry. This includes a national space industrial programme, investment in and support of private initiatives and players, a clear and symbiotic regulatory framework, and space application services’ standardisation.
- International positioning: Angola plans to reinforce its positioning in the United Nations and African Union regarding space-related activities. It also plans to participate in international projects, space agreements, initiatives, and bilateral and multilateral partnerships.
- Space policy: The Angolan institutional space structure plans to use space resources and services for the communications, education, science and technology, defence and security, meteorology and disaster response industries. It also intends to promote space data sharing across various sectors for social and economic development.
The Angola Space Strategy has contributed significantly to the nation’s increased space activities and socio-economic growth. In 2017, GGPEN launched the AngoSAT-1; however, it went out of commission after four months. The AngoSAT-2, the replacement satellite, is currently under construction and will be launched in 2022. Furthermore, in May 2019, the Angolan National Space Program Management was authorised to sign a contract with Airbus to manufacture the AngoSAT-3.
In November 2019, GGPEN launched a drought monitoring programme alongside the Angolan Ministry of Telecommunications and Information and Social Communication Technologies to tackle drought issues in the country. Angola is also leading the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) satellite shared network project. GGPEN has also established cooperation with foreign entities dedicated to activities in the various sectors of the space industry. The current international corporations and partnerships include the agreement with University Space Engineering Consortium (UNISEC), Airbus, Thales Alenia Space, and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Angola has gone from a non-space faring country to an emerging space country in the space of 11 years, and there are many more space-related developments we expect from the African nation.
Happy Independence day, Angola.
Ayooluwa Adetola is a writer and editor at Space in Africa. She loves to share scientific information using the simplest words possible. When she’s not in front of a screen, she can be found with her nose buried in a book.