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How UK Space is helping to shape Africa's future

SSTL attended the parliamentary reception on Africa and UK Space run by the Parliamentary Space Commission (PSC) on the 26th April. The reception highlighted the important role space has to play for African nations and the crucial role played by Britain's space community in tackling the major challenges of Africa today as the continent confronts the twin challenges of sustainable development and natural and humanitarian disasters. The keynote speaker Professor Robert Borroffice, the Director General of the Nigerian Space Agency discussed how Nigeria is rapidly becoming the leading African nation to benefit from the use of space and Professor Borroffice will highlight progress and future plans. SSTL have been instrumental in the development and support of Nigeria's space programme since the establishment of the Nigerian National Space Agency in 1999, which included the building and know-how transfer for Nigeria's first satellite, the NigeriaSat-1 launched in October 2003. Such cooperation is essential for space programmes in developing nations, Professor Borroffice was quoted by African news site, "it is impossible for a single country to go it alone." Nigeria now hopes to progress their space programme further, with a second satellite NigeriaSat-2 to be built by SSTL with a 2.5m pan EO (Earth Observation) satellite currently under consideration. Space was traditionally considered to be expensive and consequently, the poorest continent, Africa, was not involved in space programmes. In particular, Nigeria rejected space programmes entirely in 1976. However, in the last five years, low cost small satellites pioneered by SSTL in the UK have stimulated a series of space programmes in Africa. These African space initiatives have resulted in great benefits to Africa with respect to space applications, capacity building and economic development. They have played an important role in international disaster monitoring and human global warming and climate change prevention efforts. They have also generated further demand for space assets, applications and services, particularly, telecommunications satellites to provide much needed infrastructure for economic development and bridging the digital divide. Government support and the involvement of UK industry in the upcoming African Space Programme should enable a substantial return from investment in ARTES (communications payloads), MOSAIC (small satellites) and EO applications improving African lives with sustainable development. Much focus has been given in Parliament, and in the media, of the importance of helping Africa find a sustainable way forward. British designed Earth observation instruments and satellites are monitoring the impact of Climate Change, natural resources, deforestation, crop failures and the impact of natural disasters on Africa's exposed populations. Nigeria First, the website of the Nigerian Office of Public Communications provides informaton on Nigeria's use of space technology. Satellite-based mapping can also support aid operations so that decision makers in Africa and around the world to shape the right policies to reduce poverty or plan crops in Africa. For example, NigeriaSat-1 provides medium-resolution imagery with daily worldwide revisit for monitoring disasters. SSTL work closely with developing nations, internationally acclaimed joint training initiatives with the University Of Surrey and Phd programmes forging strong relationships throughout the world. SSTL have pioneered technology for their satellites that reduce the cost for developing nations, whilst preserving the professionalism and project management essential to space engineering to change the economies space.





10 May 20060 Comments1 Comment

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