Over $3 billion have been spent on space projects in Africa since 1998

According to the Business and Market Analysis of the African Space Industry done by Space in Africa, over $3 billion have been spent on space projects in Africa since the launch of NILESAT 101 by Egypt in 1998 contrary to popular opinion that there are no Space Activities going on in Africa. All industries thrive in Africa with commercial giants trying to make a home within its lands. The multi billion dollar Space Industry is not exempted — according to Euroconsult, Africa has an emerging space market and the continent’s contribution to the global space cannot be overemphasized.

Kenya’s first satellite which is dropped in Space today from the International Space Station makes it the 28th satellite to be launched by an African country while Mohammed VI-B launched by Morocco made it the 29th satellite and we highlight how each country feature in achieving this.

Map Showing Satellite launch by African countries

Algeria (6)

A North African country with a Mediterranean coastline and a Saharan desert interior with an international reserve of $144.9 billion (Data: 2015, Source:International Monetary Fund (IMF), data retrieved January 2017). Algeria’s GDP is $178.4 billion (2017, estimate). The country is constantly in a battle of technology supremacy with Morocco. According to SciDev.Net, the Algerian space programme for 2006–20 has been allocated a budget of about $1.3 billion. So far, the country has launched 6 satellites, the latest of which was launched in 2017. Even though most people don’t count Algeria as a Space super power in Africa, they are paving way for space technologies development in the continent and have launched the same number of satellite as Nigeria and South Africa.

Breakdown of Algeria’s Satellites:

  1. ALSAT 1 – 2002
  2. ALSAT 2A – 2010
  3. ALSAT 1B – 2016
  4. ALSAT 2B – 2016
  5. ALSAT 1N – 2016
  6. ALCOMSAT-1 2017

Angola (1)

A country in Southern Africa and is the seventh-largest country in Africa. In December 2017, Angola joined the elite number of African countries with Satellites with the launch of the AngoSat-1, a communications satellite built for almost $300 million from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the replacement, AngoSat-2 expected to launch in 2020. The country’s economy is overwhelmingly driven by its oil sector. Oil production and its supporting activities contribute about 50% of GDP, more than 70% of government revenue, and more than 90% of the country’s exports. With a population of about 28.81 million, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Angola was worth 89.63 billion US dollars in 2016 representing 0.14 percent of the world economy (Source: World Bank). Angola has one of the top 3 economies in Africa alongside Nigeria and South Africa.

Breakdown of Angola’s Satellites:

  1. AngoSat-1 – 2017

Egypt (7)

A country linking northeast Africa with the Middle East is long known for its pyramids and ancient civilization. It is the largest Arab country and has played a central role in Middle Eastern politics in modern times. With a population of 95.69 million (2016) and a GDP of $336.3 billion (2016) (Source: World Bank), Egypt remains a force to reckon with in the African Space Industry. After launching 5 satellites costing over $600 million, the country intends to create a satellite manufacturing centre in 2019

Breakdown of Egypt’s Satellites:

  1. NILESAT 101 – 1998
  2. NILESAT 102 – 2000
  3. EGYPTSAT 1 -2007
  4. NILESAT 201 – 2010
  5. EGYPTSAT 2 – 2014
  6. EGYPTSAT-A – 2019
  7. NARSSCube-2 – 2019

Ghana (1)

With a population of 28.21 million (2016) and a GDP of 42.69 billion USD (2016) (Source: World Bank), Ghana has one of the highest GDP per capita in West Africa. In January, Ghana’s benchmark stock index achieved the world’s highest rate of growth, 19%, according to Bloomberg. In addition to unveiling a telescope and astronomy centre in collaboration with the South African government (the SKA Africa project), The government allocated GHC$38.5 million ($10 million) to nuclear and space science technology in 2015 as it aims to further space education and benefit from its own satellite imagery. The West African nation launched its first satellite in 2017 which cost about $500,000

Breakdown of Ghana’s Satellites:

  1. GhanaSat-1 – July 2017

Kenya (1)

A country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean on the equator. Kenya is the world’s forty-seventh largest country at 580,367 km2 (224,081 sq mi), just after Madagascar, roughly the same size as Texas at 362,040 square miles with a population of 48.46 million (2016) and GDP of 70.53 billion USD (2016) (Source: World Bank). Kenya’s first satellite is being dropped into space from the International Space Station (ISS) today

The satellite which cost about $1.2 million was developed by engineers from the University of Nairobi in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Breakdown of Kenya’s Satellites:

  1. 1KUNS-PF – 2018

Morocco (3)

This country has the sixth-highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) among African countries and is playing a key role in the implementation of national strategies for the socio-economic development of the country especially on those relating to the agricultural sector—an important part of the Moroccan economy. The country’s latest satellite was launched in 2017 named after the King of Morocco which cost about $500 million; the second in the series, Mohammed VI – B, is scheduled for launch later this year

Breakdown of Morocco’s Satellites:

  1. Maroc-TUBSAT – 2001
  2. MOHAMMED VI-A – 2017
  3. MOHAMMED VI-B – 2018

Nigeria (6)

The most populous black nation on the Planet and the most populous African Nation with a population of 186 million (2016) and a GDP of 405.1 billion USD (2016) (Source: World Bank) and projected by World Economic Forum to have the 14th biggest and most powerful economy in the world by 2050 valued at $4.348 trillion. The country has one of the biggest space industry in the continent and have built capacities in satellite design and manufacturing spending over $500 million on satellite projects since 2003

Breakdown of Nigeria’s Satellites:

  1. Nigeriasat-1 – 2003
  2. NIGCOMSAT 1 – 2007
  3. NigeriaSat-2 – 2011
  4. NigeriaSat-X – 2011
  5. NIGCOMSAT 1R – 2011
  6. NigeriaEduSAT-1 – 2017

South Africa (8)

A country on the southernmost tip of the African continent with a population of 55.91 million (2016) and GDP of 294.8 billion USD (2016) (Source: World Bank) and constantly competing with Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa. South Africa have spent over $200 million on Satellite project and have established itself as a top notch in the Space Industry championing Astronomy research. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) budget this financial year has modestly increased to R7,79 billion ($634 million). The allocation will be used to address transformation, through key research, development and support initiatives with the South African Space Agency to receive $11 million and the SKA project $178 million. South Africa will launch ZACUBE-2, the Nation’s 7th satellite in July.

Breakdown of South Africa’s Satellites:

  1. SUNSAT – 1999
  2. ZACUBE – 2003
  3. SUMBANDILA – 2009
  4. KONDOR E – 2014
  5. nSight1 – 2017
  6. ZA-AEROSAT – 2017
  7. XinaBox ThinSAT – 2019
  8. ZaCube-2 – 2018

Twenty years after the first sojourn to space, the industry has progressed, with billions of dollars invested and about 28 satellites launched by eight nations. The space industry contributes to the objectives of the continent for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth. It drives scientific progress and boosts growth and employment in other areas such as telecommunications, navigation, and Earth observation (EO). These systems and services guarantee independence and security while helping to address major societal challenges that include climate change, scarce resources, health and an aging population.

Africa has decided to take charge of her space matters. Collaborations are important to build the next big technology in the industry and maximize it for the sustainable development of the region. As the second largest continent in the world, Africa offers huge market potential — the continent is open for commercial start-ups to maximize their profits with investments in the African space industry.

In moving forward the African Space Industry, the establishment of an African Space Agency could be a way forward. Kindly take part in our poll on who you think should host the African Space Agency (scroll down to access poll/Check the widgets on the right to access the poll if you are on a Computer).

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Last Updated – July 29, 2019