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A new report identifies prospects for UK-Africa space partnerships

By , ITWeb
Africa , 25 Apr 2024
New report lays out significant opportunities for UK-Africa space partnerships.
New report lays out significant opportunities for UK-Africa space partnerships.

Despite being decades younger than its international counterparts, Africa is emerging as a globally competitive centre for space research, technology, and development.

This is according to a new report released by Innovate United Kingdom (UK), the UK's innovation agency. The report is based on insights gained during a recent knowledge exchange and industry engagement tour.

The tour, organised by Innovate UK through its Global Alliance Africa project and supported by the Research and Innovation Systems for Africa Fund and the Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability, saw space sector experts from South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, and other pan-African organisations visit several UK space industry companies and facilities.

The trip, held in December 2023, sought to identify, connect, and give a forum for prospective areas of innovation and commercial cooperation between innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and industry enablers from both markets.

The report highlights South Africa's exceptional design capabilities, which are currently housed in the country's start-ups and supply complex and mission-specific components to satellite makers throughout the world.

Similarly, it says Kenya and Rwanda emerge as African leaders in the sector, with the Kenyan Government’s support for industry being recognised as amongst the most proactive across the continent.

The report also acknowledges the need for higher-profile policy exchanges between African governments and the UK.

In addition, it says knowledge sharing among policymakers would help shape the development of space programmes across the continent, while a regular discussion platform would also assist industry leaders in navigating trade and collaboration barriers.

According to the report, with Africa's space industry rooted in academic institutions such as the Universities of Stellenbosch and Kwa-Zulu Natal, it concludes that collaboration with UK-based researchers would improve the quality of space-related research and development on the continent, with access to global knowledge assisting African talent and young professionals in expanding their expertise.

Alana Kruger, knowledge transfer manager for South Africa at Innovate UK Business Connect and author of the report, comments: “From these engagements we found that while our two regions have distinct differences and advantages, there is significant potential for collaboration across the whole space-technology value chain.

“This ranges from upstream opportunities in rocket launch and component manufacturing, to downstream applications focusing on Earth Observation, as well as industry support services in the fields of investment, insurance, and skills training and development.” 

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