Space exploration has evolved from just getting the first man on the moon or putting satellites in space to creating moon bases and settlements on Mars. At the forefront is Elon Musk’s space company Space X which made history by successfully launching its Dragon 2 into space, thus making Dragon 2 the first commercial system to send humans into space.
Since then, billionaire Richard Branson has blasted 50 miles into space and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has flown to the edge of space with three others aboard a rocket and capsule. With these recent developments, the interest in space is at an all-time high as more private companies continue to make plans to get people to visit or live in space.
Africa is not left out of the space conversation as more countries continue to create the necessary policies and programs geared towards space development. Here is how African countries are gradually making their way to space:
In 2020, African governments doubled their national space program operating budgets to an estimated $490 million compared to $250 million in the previous year. These funds will be used for space research and inventions. According to the 2019 African Space Industry Report, over $7 billion of annual revenues is projected to grow at a 7.3% compound annual growth rate to exceed $10 billion by 2024. So far, over $717 million has been spent on satellite projects and more than $4 billion on satellite development and launch in Africa.
Growing Government Involvement
More countries are establishing new government space programs thanks to the Rwandan and Egyptian governments. These countries have built fully operational space agencies in the 2nd half of 2019 and the 1st half of 2020. The African industrial Space annual Report For 2020 showed that African governments budgeted an estimated $490 million towards their space programs compared to $250 million from the previous year, excluding capital expenditures on the acquisition of satellites.
Creating a Progressive Space Industry
Across the continent, there is an increase in multimillion-dollar investment programs from government and academic institutions to carry out research and invent more astro products/services. Following this trend, the African Union has created a sector that encourages African manufacturers to produce satellites that can offer services like maritime surveillance, mobile asset tracking, geospatial data, satellite internet broadband.
Revising Policies to Favor Space Programs
In July 2020, 19 African countries established or begun creating a space program. So far, 15 of these 19 countries have signed the Outer Space Treaty, 14 have signed the Rescue Agreement, 12 have signed the Liability Convention, four have signed the Registration Convention, and only Morocco has signed the Moon Agreement. These trends highlight Africa’s growing adoption of policies and international conventions to promote national or continental space initiatives. More African countries are beginning to recognize the need for space programs and favourable space policies.
At this rate, the 2020 African Space Industry Report says an estimated 20 countries should launch 110 satellites by 2024.