Top stories that shaped the African Space Industry in 2018

As we come to the end of 2018, we highlight the top stories from the African Space Industry over the year. The industry experienced a good turn-around in 2018 with inflow of funds on space application projects, establishment of new space agencies, development of new National Space policies, launch of new satellites and more countries joining the space race. In summary, the African Space Industry is experiencing significant growth and we are closer to an African Space Agency.

Kenya launched its first satellite, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast began work on their first satellites, Ethiopia enacted its National Space Policy, Zimbabwe launched its space agency while South Africa launched Africa’s satellite number 30.

In March, we did a profile of the top 13 women in the African Space Industry while NIGCOMSAT deployed Africa’s first Satellite-based Augmentation system. In April, Algeria’s first communication Satellite began operations as China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System Centre opens in Tunisia.

Kenya’s first satellite was deployed from the International Space Station in May making it the 28th Satellite by an African Nation while South Africa launched the world’s first optical telescope linked to a radio telescope. In June, in promoting diversity and more women in the space sector, Beza Tesfaye was appointed as the General Manager of Ethiopian Space Science Society.

September started with South Africa winning the right to host the 2024 IAU General Assembly as Ivory Coast also announced plans to launch its first satellite in 2020. Kenya also announced the inauguration of Kenya Space Agency Board while Zimbabwe launched its National Space Agency.

October began with Mirjana Pović, an assistant professor at the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, Ethiopia won the Nature Research Awards for Inspiring Science while Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project won the Better Satellite World Award. The World Space Week activities were held in various countries across Africa, same with the NASA International Space Apps Challenge – The 12th AARSE International Conference also held in Alexandria, Egypt.

November started with Ethiopia announcing its plan to launch its first satellite in 2019. The 8th African Leadership Conference on space science and technology for sustainable development was held in Abuja Nigeria and Ethiopia was announced as the host for the 9th edition of the conference.  Women in Aerospace Africa also met during the ALC and began planning to organize their 1st regional workshop in 2019. Prof. Islam Abou El-Magd also gave a deep insight into the African Space Agency and what we should expect in 2019.

The 1st GMES & Africa forum held in Libreville, Gabon bringing together about 250 representatives of Earth Observation service and data providers, grassroots level users, decision-makers, academia, the private sector, research institutions from Africa and all over the world. We also gave a highlight of the €13 million projects funded by GMES & Africa

Also in November, Morocco launched its second Earth Observation satellite, making it the 29th Satellite launched by an African Nation and Morocco’s 3rd satellite.

In December, the Space Generation Advisory Council organized their 2nd African Space Generation Workshop in Port Loius Mauritius. We wrote on the Africa Regional Data Cube Initiative, one of the key projects providing solutions to Africa’s major problems. The initiative is a new tool that harnesses the latest Earth observation and satellite technology to help Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Tanzania address food security as well as issues relating to agriculture, deforestation, and water access.

The International Astronomical Union also selected 17 countries to implement IAU100 Global Projects in Africa, Prof. Mohamed Sa’eed Shawqui gave deep insight into the untold story of the old Egyptian cosmology. Interestingly, Ethiopia cabinet of ministers passing into law, the Ethiopian Space Policy while ZaCube-2 was launched on December 27, making it the 30th Satellite to be launched by an African Country.

From us at Space in Africa, we appreciate you for your support in 2018, we hope to serve you better in 2019. We have a lot lined up for the new year and we are counting on your support as we all work together to build a sustainable African Space Industry. Happy New Year friends!