According to the 2022 edition of the Africa Space Industry Annual Report, published on August 17th by Space in Africa, the African space economy keeps growing at a rate beyond Africa’s GDP growth rates.  Its 2021value was US$19.49bn in 2021, and is projected to grow by 16.16% to $22.64bn by 2026. In addition, the African space economy employs a workforce of over 19,000 people across different sectors, with the government which is the highest employer in the industry employing over 11,000 staff.

Since the first African satellite, SunSat-1, was launched by South Africa in 1999, a total of 48 satellites have been launched by 21 African states. Egypt and South Africa lead the way with at least ten satellites each, Algeria with seven, Nigeria with six, and Morocco with three. Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Angola, Kenya, Rwanda and Mauritius have all launched satellites and Uganda and Zimbabwe are very close to doing so. 

African nations allocated $534.9m to national space programmes in 2022. This amount marked a 2.24% increase from $523.3m in 2021. National budgets consistently contribute to the industry valuation annually, and governments’ contributions increased by 80.83% in 2021 from $289.33m in 2019 to $523.2m. 

Many African countries are also improving on their space application goals as different national priorities span space democratisation, propulsion & launch technology development, human capacity development, and local and international space partnerships, amongst others.

The satellite communication market, which includes Fixed Satellite Services (FSS), Mobile Satellite Services (MSS), and Satellite TV services, accounts for a major share of the African space and satellite industry valuation in 2021. A considerable share of this revenue comes from the African satellite TV market, with major satellite TV operators like DSTV, Canal+ Afrique, and StarTimes dominating the market regarding revenue generation, subscriber base, and countries served. 

With more companies growing their market base and several others generating income from the sale of the new and improved production line, satellite manufacturing is expected to grow in the coming years.

In 2022, Space in Africa estimates that 272 NewSpace companies are charting the course of space democratisation on the continent. These companies, domiciled across 31 African states, are innovating novel methods of leveraging space technologies and its derived data to develop cutting-edge technologies and solutions across several fields, including manufacturing, medicine, transportation and logistics, and much more. 

These companies provide goods or services primarily to other private sector entities (B2B) and/or consumers (B2C), and sometimes, the government. Furthermore, in most African regions, private companies leverage space systems and infrastructures built by the government and/or foreign organisations to provide niched solutions/services, including decision-ready datasets, satellite and component manufacturing, and satellite communication services (e.g. internet services, DTH Tv, satellite radio, among other).  (africanews.space 17/8)

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The most recent African satellite launch was made by Egypt on June 13th.  NileSat301was successfully taken into space aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to geostationary orbit from the Cape Canaveral Airbase in Florida, USA.  Weighing roughly 4100kg, it was manufactured in France by Thales Alenia Space and aims to provide digital broadband and internet connectivity services for Egyptian satellite operator, Nilesat. 

On January 13th South Africa became the first country to design and develop a satellite entirely on the African continent when the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, launched its third satellite mission into space from the Cape Canaveral rocket launch site in Florida in the US.  The nanosatellite constellation – consisting of three satellites – is called MDASat (Marine Domain Awareness). A nanosatellite is smaller than standard satellites, weighing between 1kg and 10kg.    MDASat is designed to collect data that will enhance the security and protection of South African marine resources. The constellation will detect, monitor and identify foreign vessels within the country’s exclusive economic zone. This could help track illegal dumping and fishing.  (theconversation.com 23/1/2022) 

Uganda and Zimbabwe are both close to joining the race.  Uganda’s first satellite was originally intended for launch in August, but has been delayed by adverse weather conditions.  Once launched data from the PearlAfricaSat-1 satellite will be received by a ground station in Mpoma, Mukono, and will be utilised for a variety of purposes, including meteorology, environmental monitoring, urban planning, mineral exploration, and disaster management.

Zimbabwe’s first satellite, ZimSat-1, when eventually launched, will enhance mineral exploration and monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts. Additionally, it will aid in mapping human settlements and disease outbreaks, among other capabilities.  ZimSat-1, a nanosatellite, will deploy from the Japanese KIBO Module after nearly a year-long delay caused by Covid-19.  Its launch was expected in June but is yet to take place. 

For further information about the Africa Research Bulletin:

Economic, Financial and Technical Series: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/14676346

Political, Social and Cultural Series: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/1467825x