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ZASpace Inc to unite and expand SA's geospatial ecosystem

By , ITWeb
South Africa , 06 Dec 2019

ZASpace Inc to unite and expand SA's geospatial ecosystem

The South African Space Agency (SANSA) has launched an independent not-for-profit industry forum for South Africa's emerging geospatial industry.

The first of its kind in Africa, and one of few such initiatives around the world, ZASpace aims to improve the country's geospatial readiness and incorporate geospatial intelligence into business. It is expected to coordinate the needs of the telecoms, agricultural, humanitarian, and military sectors, and collaborate with SANSA to meet these needs using satellites and other observation methods.

ZASpace will prioritise innovation-based funding for SMMEs and start-ups by creating opportunities for participation by private equity, venture capital and other funding institutions.

SANSA hopes the new forum will boost investment in the development of South Africa's space industry by funding innovation and skills development, said Valanathan Munsami, CEO of SANSA.

ZASpace could also help South Africa reach its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 by developing our space industry through investing in skills and innovation, said Munsami in his keynote address at the launch.

Kamal Ramsingh, ZASpace Inc CEO, labelled the launch of ZASpace as "a small, but incredibly formative step in building out the geospatial sector in this country and potentially the continent."

Ramsingh pointed out that the growth in the geospatial industry in Africa is forecast to reach 21% between 2018 and 2020, while the world's biggest current geospatial markets, the US, the UK and the rest of Europe, are slowing down, only forecast to grow by 10% and 11% respectively.

He said SA has had decades of missed opportunity, as the country outsourced and offshored geospatial technology needs. There is hope that the influx of new skills and innovation will accelerate competition within South Africa's space industry and significantly improve the geospatial readiness index, he added.

"We require a deliberate strategy and committed execution to stitch together the vibrant industry fabric needed to capitalise on the promised growth – failing which, we will continue to export our demand to the many overseas firms with spare capacity and diminishing marketing growth rates," said Ramsingh.

"This is why we felt that the formation of ZASpace was essential, and why the time to put South Africa's geospatial sector on the map is now. We believe that ZASpace will not only provide a valuable tool to propel the growth of the sector across the continent, but will enable innovation, allowing us all to benefit from the opportunities that the 4th Industrial Revolution offers organisations at every level of our society."

Munsami added that ZASpace is of strategic importance to the future trajectory of the South African space sector. "For the next five-year planning cycle, commencing 2020, South Africa will be charting a new strategic direction for our national space programme and ZASpace will be a critical partner in forging stronger public-private sector partnerships."

He highlighted the potential of geospatial technology to provide insight on human migration and conflict on the continent, track the effects of climate change, as well as for disaster monitoring and relief, and defence-keeping and treaty-monitoring. It may also play a role in growing the tourism, recreation and communications sectors.

Siyabonga Copiso, CEO of Amaya Space, which aims to launch South Africa's first constellation of nano-satellites, pledged the use of the constellation to ZASpace at the launch event, while the Department of Trade and Industry offered to sit on the foundational ZASpace Working Committee.

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