The Federal Government asked investors on Monday to take advantage of the prospects in the African space industry to support its liberalisation, stating that the continent is well-positioned to provide space-based services to the rest of the globe.
Uche Nnaji, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology, said this at the inaugural African Space Economy Conference and Exhibition which lasted five days
The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), in partnership with the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), is hosting the conference.
Participants in the programme include businesspeople, scientists, students, and the government. Its topic is "Exploring Space Economy for Africa's Economic Growth."
Prof. Nnanyelugo Ike-Muonso, the Technical Adviser on Programmes, spoke on behalf of Nnaji, who asserted that Africa must explore the enormous potential concealed in the space industry in order to foster innovation and sustainable development.
“Space economy as an emerging sub-sector of global space ecosystem, denotes the economic potential of a dynamic space sector and the role it can play in human socio-economic development.
“This will create a platform to expand African involvement and partnership in global space economy opportunities.
“It is crucial we channel our efforts in discovering solutions to our problems because Africa is in a strategic position to serve the continent and the world with her arrays of space assets.
“We can create jobs, reduce capital flight and improve technological innovations for our youthful population and the general public,’’ he said.
The minister pleaded with the attendees to use the Fourth Industrial Revolution and other disruptive technologies to the nation's advantage.
One of the goals of the conference, according to Dr. Halilu Shaba, Director-General of NASRDA, was to create synergy between practitioners and investors in the space sector.
Shaba remembered that the purpose of NASRDA's founding in 1999 was to assist the country in exploring the economic possibilities obtained from space research and technology.
“The Space Science and Technology industry was an exclusive preserve of big government enterprises such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency, among others in the time past.
“This has however changed in the recent years because big private individuals such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and many others have become big players in the space industry.
“The conference is one of the strategic efforts of NASRDA to open up the space ecosystem for appreciation, utilisation and patronage.
“It is our hope that many investors in Africa would see the potential in the industry and begin to invest for the economic emancipation of our continent,’’ he said.
Shaba urged the attendees to take use of the 'Business-To-Business' networking opportunities with other like-minded individuals from around the world.
Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, the President of ACCI, stated that while the African continent had yet to capitalise on the boom, the space business was expanding quickly, with an approximate 10% annual growth rate.
According to Abubakar, Africa still lacks the necessary policy framework for effective sub-sector facilitation and regulation.
“The African space economy in 2021 was estimated to be valued at 19.49 billion dollars and is projected to grow by 16.16 per cent to 22.64 billion dollars by 2026.
“Space is also becoming increasingly important for geopolitics, security and defense, while our freedom of action depends on a safe, secure and autonomous access to space,’’ he said.
Abubakar added that the conference would focus on governance-related developmental concerns.
He listed a number of the topics the conference would look at, such as space technology and food security, internal revenue generation, internal security, and space technology and communication.
Adetokunbo Ogundeyin, the General Managing-Director of Proforce Galaxies Limited, disclosed that space technology has the capacity to fundamentally alter Nigeria's security environment.
Ogundeyin pointed out that space technology can be used for a variety of purposes, including marine security, geospatial intelligence, border surveillance, response, and deterrent, as well as to prevent counterterrorism and kidnapping.
He contends that a country's space capabilities can increase its global clout, diplomatic sway, and capacity to engage in international space cooperation and talks.
He added that the space economy includes space manufacturing, infrastructure development, human capital development, space startups, and entrepreneurship, and that investment opportunities in it can be advantageous to everyone.
“It is time for Africa to ascend to new heights by harnessing space technology to secure the well-being and prosperity of our nations, seize the opportunities for investment that lie on the African frontier of space exploration.’’
Dignitaries toured an exhibition of technologies created in space.