The African Union Commission (AUC) has postponed the inaugural Africa Space Week. This is as a result of the recent measures taken by the Government of Kenya to contain the new Coronavirus Delta Variant. The containment measures subsequently prompted the closure of all meetings and gatherings. Thus, the commission had to postpone the inaugural event.
Commenting on the postponement, Dr Tidiane Ouattara of the Commission, noted that “it has become inevitable to postpone the Africa Space Week for a second time while we recollect to decide on the next step”. Furthermore, he expressed that due to time constraints, it was challenging to organise a fully virtual event on the same date. Hence, the Commission apologised for the disappointment and the inconveniences the postponement may cause. The AUC also sought the understanding and patience of the general public.
The AUC has not picked a new date for Africa Space Week yet. However, upon picking such a date, it will be communicated promptly. The event was to hold from the 6th to the 10th of September, 2021. The Commission used the opportunity to thank the Kenya Space Agency, the Local Organizing Committee and the International Organizing Committee for the tremendous work done.
About the Africa Space Week
In 2013, the African Union adopted the Africa Agenda 2063 as the main compass to guide its strategic focus for the following 50 years. The African scientific community has developed Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) as the scientific implementation leg of Agenda 2063. Both Agenda 2063 and STISA-2024 underscore the critical role of space in addressing development challenges, and hence identified an African Outer Space programme as one of the flagships. This also reflects well in the pillars of STISA-2024. This is a strong indication from the highest authorities to stamp their commitment to an African-coordinated space process.
Since then, the Commission has continually engaged the African space actors through the development of the African Space Policy, the African Space strategy, the Statute for the establishment of an African Space Agency, and the Republic of Egypt’s choice to host the African Space Agency. In the same vein, the Commission has continued engaging through several African space working groups and stakeholders dialogue meetings. At the third African Space Dialogue meeting in Dakar, Senegal (12-14 June 2019), stakeholders proposed that the Commission consider an annual forum for the African space industry including the public and private sector, academia, non-profit organisations, etc.
The organisation of African Space Week indicates how the African space industry has grown and the commitment of the African Union to a coordinated space process. Worth about USD 7.37 billion according to the 2019 African Space Industry Report analysis by Space in Africa, the industry is expected to grow over USD 10 billion by 2024. African Space Week will strengthen all African space efforts, including the African Space Policy, African Space Strategy, and the African Space Agency. Furthermore, the Week will have a structure that promotes and enables intra-African and international collaborations on space activities.