There is potential to apply space technology in various areas in Africa. Satellite technology can be applied in agriculture, transport, urban planning, environmental management, disaster management and natural resource management.
Of course, international wars have moved from the ground borders to the territorial space, with the support of satellite technology hence African countries, which already have over 48 satellites in space, cannot afford to play in silos. There is urgent need to collaborate to grow local content in satellite technology and to protect the African territorial space.
The UN-affiliated regional centres in Morocco and Nigeria have trained several hundred Africans in these areas.
In addition, some African countries have procured small satellites, mostly through the help of academic or commercial institutions abroad. But, technology transfer must happen for the benefits to become more obvious.
Similarly, panelists at the just concluded Africa Tech Festival in South Africa agreed that ‘satellite technology should be viewed as complementary rather than competitive in addressing Africa’s demands’.
Tinuade Oguntuyi, the head of Network and Solutions, Information Connectivity Solutions Limited (ICSL) moderated the session that discussed “Satellite Redefined – Africa is forging its path into space”.
The panelists are:
- Abymbola Alale, Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited
- Rakesh Kukreja, founder I-SAT group
- Abdallah Nassar, Chief Engineering and Network Officer (Orange Cameroun )
- Sophia Farrar, Lead Partnership GIGA (UNICEF and ITU initiative)
Important takeaways from the panel discussion as enumerated by Tinuade:
1. Every player in the space economy—operators, providers, regulators, and the government—should consider their role in the value chain as distinct yet collaborative
2. Adopting a communal consumption culture will reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) for satellite communications.
3. Satellite technology should be viewed as complementary rather than competitive in addressing Africa’s demands
4. To facilitate the deployment and upkeep of satellite communications, the right laws and rules should exist
5. Satellite is crucial for connecting schools globally and in Africa.
6. All other communication platform, including fiber optics, microwave technology, and SIM, can be used to ensure that satellite deployment is successful.
7. Satellite will play a vital role where other forms of communication can’t, particularly in hard to reach communities.
8. Africa should intentionally focus on applicability and adaptation rather than copying and pasting solutions.
In her concluding remarks, Tinuade said, “True, LEO Satellite is here; let’s start approaching the adoption of cutting-edge technology through the prism of its commercial viability, applicability, and safety”.