Airbus Director on What’s Inhibiting Africa’s Adoption of Space Technology

Inadequate funding largely explains why Africa has been slow in investing in space technology compared to the rest of the world, capsule says Ghislain de la Sayette the Airbus Director for Africa.

He argues that this is coupled with a lack of awareness of the potential in space solutions and security cautions.

Sayette was delivering a presentation during the International Conference of the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) in Kampala on Monday on the global manufacturing giant’s role in bridging the geospatial gap on the African continent.

While there has previously been initiatives to group African countries to share satellites for telecommunications and broadcasting such as TESCO and ARMC, Sayette said; “This hasn’t yielded much success because countries tend to be cautious on highly confidential information being accessed by others. It is for this reason that we (Airbus) chose to work with individual countries that are willing to expand their knowledge in space science and technology.”

In a later interview with ChimpReports, Sayette revealed so far in Africa, South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt are the top space countries. The second group which consists countries that have already started intensive space projects include Kenya, Ghana, Gabon and Angola.

Unfortunately, Uganda falls under none of the four categories of emerging space countries on the continent.

The Airbus Director commented; “I was happy to learn from Prime Minister that there’s an interest to create a Remote Sensing Center. Apart from individual initiatives around universities that we have in Uganda, I don’t see a clear roadmap for a national space program.”

“Setting up space infrastructure requires tens of millions of Euros,” he told ChimpReports but added that Airbus has offered solutions to assist African countries to start some activities locally manufacturing their own mini satellites.


Asked about subsidizing the cost of space generated data specifically for Africa, Sayette stressed that space is a business oriented investment.

“Space means business. Our investment in infrastructure and High Resolution (30 to 50 centimetres range) satellites which we are soon to launch makes it impossible to put free data on the market.”

Airbus is widely known for manufacturing aircrafts (aeroplanes and choppers) but is through its Airbus Defense and Space subsidiary also into making Earth Observation Satellites which produce space images that are sold to different users for a range of purposes.

Sayette said such data has been used for e-health, e-learning, land administration, defense, forestry, disaster management among others in Africa.

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