The African space industry grew in leaps and bounds in 2019— from satellite launches, inaugurations of new agencies, departments and new space programs for the next decade, to Pan-African and foreign bilateral and multilateral collaborations, policies and resolutions, and NewSpace commitments, participation and growth— one can only say it was a year indeed in the industry, and Space in Africa was with you all through to bring you news of the momentous year. As we venture into the new year, here is a recap of some of the top stories and events that shaped the industry in last year as listed in our various categories.
With regards to satellites launches, we brought you news of developments in the industry as it witnessed an increase in the number of space-faring nations with Sudan, Rwanda and Ethiopia joining the league. We also brought you news of additional launches by space-faring nations such as Egypt and South Africa.
Future and ongoing space programs were not left out as we reported stage by stage development of several space programs currently undertaken by other Africa countries, including Tunisia, Senegal and Uganda; Pan-African space projects such as the AfriDev-Sat and AFCONSAT and foreign satellite collaborations with China, Russia, Britain, Israel. And with more African national governments consolidating national development goals in line with space advancements through policies, budgetary support and agencies this year, we curated stories on such government space efforts, policies and supports as it pertains to these, with top stories highlighting Zimbabwe, South African ZASpace Inc, and the Egyptian Space Agency.
For more information on African satellites, click here.
The year also played host to a number of conferences and events in the industry in Africa such as the 8th ASLC in Addis Ababa in December, its various highlights and resolutions, including change of conference name from ALC to ASLC, adoption for biennial hosting of the conference and interim constitution as well as the establishment of an ASLC Women Forum to take effect from the next congress.
Other notable conferences that took place in the year include the 3rd African Union Space Stakeholders Dialogue in Dakar, Senegal, which focused on progress made on the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy and the next steps of the development and implementation of the African Outer Space Programme; the first Africa Geospatial Data and Internet Conference (AGDIC) in Accra in October with emphasis on the need for the adoption geospatial data and the internet as key to development programs in solving Africa’s complex problems, and the 3rd African Space Generation Workshop which afforded delegates a platform for exchange on critical space sector opportunities and challenges, global policy initiatives and international cooperation.
There were also several conferences such as the Astronomy in Africa 2019 Conference, 13th AARSE International Conference in Rwanda, AfAS Science Business Meeting in Addis Ababa and AfAS2020 conference in Cape Town South Africa, the AfricaGIS Conference 2019 in Rwanda and others.
Furthermore, a number of competitions took place in the industry in the past year, including the Space in Africa Essay Competition 2019 on Enhancing Women Participation in the African Space Industry with 106 essay entries with impressive contents from 20 African countries; the Manfred Lachs International Space Moot Competition, which had Africa representatives from the University of Calabar emerging as runner-up; the SA-GAMMA Logo Design Competition, the Copernicus Masters Competition, the UNOOSA Space for Youth Competition and others.
We also explored and reported stories showing how space-related applications are leveraged on the continent for Sustainable Development Goals, with special features on space-aged technologies explored in Kenya to monitor pests and cut losses for farmers; how issues of food security on the continent are tackled using space technologies and how the European Space Agency (ESA) and AXA are collaborating to improve health care and its delivery in African nations.
In the area of urbanisation, we reported on how Africapolis is providing real-time data on urban agglomerates in Africa, which are leveraged by policymakers for planning and other developmental activities.
Improving communication, drought, earth observation development, climate change, wildlife conservation and other projects are crucial to achieving the Africa of our dreams, therefore, we covered stories of activities by individuals, non-governmental and international organisations and governments such as how Intelsat and Africa Mobile Networks connects rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, and Angolan GGPEN monitoring of drought in the Southwestern African country via satellite. The segment also featured the impact of invasives species, particularly, the water hyacinth on African rivers and how Ufuoma Ovienmhada Of MIT Media Lab Space Enabled Group is using satellite data to combat this in the Benin Republic and recycling the weed to better use.
The year saw step taken further for the actualisation of the African Space Agency as Egypt won the bid to host the agency’s headquarters ahead of Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria.
Moreover, we reported earth observation projects being implemented by institutions in 45 African countries through Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) and how GMES & Africa is using earth observation to improve the lives of African people.
In addition, our interview segments featured outstanding individuals and NewSpace companies making massive impacts in the different segments of the African space industry, with extensive discussions on their activities, contributions and expectations as it regards to human resource development, business acumen, space-software applications, gender equity, space programs and collaborations. Under these, we interviewed the CEO of the newly inaugurated South African industry-focused ZASpace, Kamal Ramisingh, who offered detailed insights on the strategy and projects of the organisation. Simera Group CEO, Johann Du Toit, also shared business success secrets on building one of Africa’s fastest-growing NewSpace companies and how to achieve this. Aside from the interviews, we curated informative articles on how the UKZN’s Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG) is building South Africa’s satellite launch capability, XinaBox’s STEM Learning And Rapid Product Development, and how Nigerian NewSpace company, BeepTool, is carrying out financial transactions using nanosatellites.
The year also witnessed the curation of reports and business analyses on policies and strategy, such as African space industry worth and breakdown, annexing Africa’s Space Sector, who has signed the most deals on the continent, what the scramble between world powers for space investment in Africa mean for the continent (China vs the U.S), why several foreign countries are exploring Africa for space business, where and how to raise funds for space projects in Africa; the African Industry and the NewSpace Reports 2019.
The African Space Industry Report, 2019 Edition covers all deals, space policies, satellite programs, national space programs, regional cooperations and the growth of Africa’s commercial space industry from 1998 to April 2019. It also provides insights into future space activities in Africa, covering up to 2024.
To access the African Industry Report, click here.
On the other hand, NewSpace Africa Industry Report, 2019 Edition provides an overview of 34 companies that are currently navigating the African space industry, with an emphasis on their size, financial and investment history, and products and services, as they exist and interact with other elements in the global space ecosystem.
The NewSpace Africa Annual Industry Report, 2019 Edition is available on www.africanews.space/report.
Ogechi Onuoha is a Cambridge Certified ESOL editor with a background in reporting, international relations, creative writing and adept in industry research and analysis. She is passionate about curating and evaluating the benefits/relevance of space to grassroots development and women’s participation in the space sector.