Africa boosting space technology to help farming, economy

2023-07-27 17:16:44
Africa boosting space technology to help farming, economy

The second conference by NewSpace Africa had three times more participants than the first conference in 2022 in Kenya, RFI said in a recent report.

This year’s event took place in April in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and was organized by the African Union Commission and Space in Africa.

With some 50 satellites manufactured by 13 African states and a sector valued at nearly 20 million dollars in 2021, Africa’s space industry is growing steadily.

African states are increasingly recognising the importance of space exploration and technology. The African Space Policy and Strategy, launched by the African Union, is a framework guiding Africa’s space sector by providing a coordinated approach.

The newly formed African Space Agency (AfSA), headquartered in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, intends to be the platform for space research on the continent, as well as being the focal point of Africa’s collaboration with Europe and other non-African partners.

“The African Space Agency will facilitate the advancement of technology in all member states,” said Dr Tidiane Ouattara, the African Union Commission Space Science Expert, GMES and Africa programme coordinator.

“It also aims to bring together countries with less advanced space programs.”

Gabon’s space experience

Gabon launched its space programme in 2015 in response to the challenges of climate change. With 88 per cent of the country covered by forests, the Gabonese Agency for Space Studies and Observation (AGEOS) proved essential in the collection of data on its forests, biodiversity and carbon emissions.

“Before we invested in our own space agency, we spent millions of CFA francs on a large staff deployed for up to seven months on the ground for forest monitoring,” Aboukar Mambimba Ndjoungui, deputy director of AGEOD told RFI’s Bineta Diagne.

“With our satellite, we have far fewer people on the ground and send them to areas where we lack sufficient data. So, we managed to save time and money."

Gabon’s satellite covers 24 countries in central and west Africa along with the whole Gulf of Guinea.

“The satellite data and images are of tremendous help in identifying the areas prone to floods, thus preventing natural disasters.

“We also monitor Lake Chad. In the Gulf of Guinea, we monitor illegal fishing, piracy, hydrocarbon pollution. AGEOS then provides detailed information to the concerned parties.”

The African Union Commission is currently implementing the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES) in partnership with more than 150 institutions.

Egypt’s newly completed space city will, meanwhile, became fully operational in June 2023.

Dr Sherif Sedky, the CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency, said that the satellite assembly, integration and testing facility will be open to other African countries for specified testing.


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