Friday, May 24, 2024

Report from America – Africa joint session on sustainability, trade and partnerships

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At the NewSpace Africa Conference held in Luanda, Angola, on its second day, a key session took place focusing on the enhancement of space cooperation, trade, and sustainability between the United States and Africa. This session drew upon the outcomes of prior engagements, such as the US-Africa Commercial Space Stakeholders Meeting and the US-Africa Space Forum, underscoring the transformative potential of space activities for communities across the globe. 

Prominent figures from both the US and African sectors, including academia, government, and industry, convened to discuss avenues for collaboration in space ventures. Among the notable speakers were H.E. Prof Mohamed Belhocine of the African Union Commission, Deputy Secretary Hon Don Graves from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Gabriel Swiney from the Office of Space Commerce, along with representatives from NASA, the U.S. International Trade Administration, and the African Space Council. 

The dialogue underscored the United States’ commitment to supporting Africa’s burgeoning space program and explored the impact of space commerce on economic development. Deputy Secretary Graves highlighted the critical role of space-based technologies in enabling governance and economic growth in African nations, pointing to infrastructure projects like the Lobito Corridor as examples of space intelligence application. 

The discussions also emphasized collaborative efforts to leverage space for mutual benefits, particularly in areas like agriculture and early warning systems. Bill Nelson’s message reinforced the importance of harnessing space technologies for infrastructural development. 

The panel explored various dimensions of US-Africa space relations, from diplomacy and commercial cooperation to space development and security. Initiatives and policies promoting the African space ecosystem were outlined, with a focus on responsible and peaceful use of outer space. 

Significantly, the session delved into the importance of involving youth in space exploration and the need for sustainable space regulations. Education initiatives such as NASA’s GLOBE project were highlighted for their role in enhancing environmental and scientific understanding among African students. 

Related: Why Monitoring Space Weather and Space Environment is Important

Gabriel Swiney detailed NOAA’s contributions to climate change adaptation and sustainable fisheries, showcasing the use of open-source data to support African nations in these endeavors. 

The US-Africa space cooperation dialogue culminated in a panel featuring Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, who emphasized aligning diplomatic and developmental initiatives with Africa’s priorities. The discussion highlighted the necessity of building capacities and fostering inclusive growth through education and innovation. 

Reflecting on these comprehensive discussions, the session illuminated lessons for Africa in navigating its space ambitions. The strategic alignment of Africa’s needs with global space partnerships, the emphasis on education and capacity building, and the leveraging of space technologies for developmental and environmental objectives stand out as crucial pillars. 

These insights underscore the potential for Africa to harness space technologies for sustainable development, drawing from the collaborative frameworks and initiatives discussed. As Africa aspires to strengthen its position in the global space arena, the foundations laid by such dialogues will be instrumental in realizing its space aspirations and contributing to a sustainable future. 

 

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungaihttp://www.edwardmungai.com/
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via mailto:edward@edwardmungai.com

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