The era of public space travel is approaching faster than most people think, driven by the human desire for adventure, travel and fun, and by the economic motivation for creating a space industry. Before this will happen, advances in engineering, law and policy, and medicine must be made, as well as considering the issues involved in business and management. Public awareness of the possibility must be increased and world-wide excitement about space generated in order to make space tourism a reality.
Africa’s lack of human presence in space, while a tad frustrating to African space agencies, is not for lack of trying. It is in fact very tasking to launch humans into space, and it requires years of research, development, engineering and innovation. It also is extremely expensive. At the moment, most African space agencies do not have the resources to adequately pull this off, particularly with how the funding of space projects has been abysmally low when compared to other space programs globally.
International cooperation is yet another factor that could help Africa’s plans to launch astronauts to space. Already, African space agencies rely heavily on foreign technology to help develop and execute different space-related programs. In establishing a spaceflight-worthy project, technology and human resources from these countries will be quite essential in building a system that works efficiently. It is assumed that the international space community would be enthusiastic to help positively promote African space programs.
While the aim for pursuing space exploration remains the need to meet immediate and long term needs of the African continent, the objectives should be well spelt out to include in its core self-sufficiency and allied technologies required for space exploration, improving livelihoods of citizens across the continent through utilization of space based products and services and industrial competitiveness.
The challenges facing the African continent are fairly general and can be said to include poverty, insecurity, desertification, disease, illiteracy, resource mismanagement, accelerated climate change etc. these problems cut across time zones and regional classifications, thereby making a combined solution to the problems are viable proposition for multiple states to tackle.
When the need for an Africa-wide space agency is considered, global trends must be at the forefront of the adopted strategy for implementation. What is seen in almost every case where nations have begun with state owned and controlled space agencies, they have invariably and ultimately transited to some form of collaboration with privately owned firms and businesses that are beginning to takeover certain aspects of the traditional space technology monopolies. Such partnerships are sometimes drawn up as part of public private partnership (PPP) agreements
Need analysis of the African continent shows there are common challenges spread across wide areas of the continent that are not localized to national borders. Some of these issues include health and disease, security, desertification, drought and water management, information technology, education, which are still begging for answers and viably sustainable solutions that are home grown and repeatable across different countries in Africa. Satellite technology offers an easy and optimal way to meet many of these challenges at reduced cost in the long run. However, satellite technology is expensive and out of the reach of many African nations at this time. This paper has proposed a synergy that will leverage on Africa’s location, size and human resource to create a continent-wide space agency that can serve to meet the identified needs in a process driven and well thought-out way.
Utilizing ESA template for an African Space Agency, recognition must be made of the role played by business and economic cooperation, made possible through the framework of the Economic union of the European Union (EU). This business and monetary union forms an integral component for the actualization of the goals set for ESA. The ability to allow for free trade between participating European nations in the EU is the glue that makes possible a continent wide space agency of shared responsibility and benefits. Therefore, it would seem that Africa is charting a similar trajectory to the EU in terms of greater economic advantages for its people. Africa could as well follow suit with the formation of a continent wide space agency that caters for the needs emanating from such a huge and immensely beneficial agreement. Next, this paper proposes some extra specifics to the structure of the proposed space agency by identifying a possible structural composition of the agency.