A Robust African Space Industry

A Robust African Space Industry

According to the African Space Industry Report– 2019 Edition, the industry has launched more than 30 satellites into space and has over $7 billion in annual revenues which are projected to exceed $10 billion by 2024. The report from Space in Africa covers the continent’s journey into space from 1998 through May 2019.

Following is an excerpt from an article on the report.

From 1998 through May 2019, 32 satellites were launched into orbit by eight African countries: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. In addition to the 32 national satellites, African institutions jointly funded three other satellite projects – RASCOM-QAF1, RASCOM-QAF1R and New Dawn – for regional operations.

Fifteen out of the 35 satellites were launched in the last four years, indicating the skyward growth rate at which Africa is embracing space technologies to power the continent's growth and improve the lives of its people. The diverse satellite programs include 14 earth observation satellites, 10 communications satellites, eight technology demonstration satellites, a satellite for scientific experiments, an educational project satellite and a military radar satellite.

A Growing Employer

The industry's growth is driven by growing private economies, as complemented by national and regional strategic priorities. The new African Space Agency will complement the national space program while implementing the continental space policy stipulated under the African Union Agenda 2063. This policy looks to grow the industry with a combination of expertise and products from outside of Africa alongside the expansion of African capabilities to grow the industry for the good of all parties.

African engineers built 14 of the 35 satellites, including those they built in Africa and others using facilities outside of Africa. There are multiplying business opportunities for local and foreign companies across the various subsectors of the African space industry. The non-African entities closing the most deals on the continent include Airbus Defense and Space (France), China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), RSC Energia (Russia), Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (UK), and Thales Alenia Space (France).

On the smaller end of the scale, a growing collection of NewSpace startups in Africa have recently attracted investment at over $200 million of combined valuation. About 8,500 people work across the African space industry. Approximately 2,000 of these people work for commercial companies, while others are employed by governments through national space programs and research centers.


Caption: Ethiopia launched its first earth observatory satellite in 2019.

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