South Africa: Need for new space business model

Cape Town – The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has called for a “developmental agenda” in the provision of satellite services from outside Africa.Sansa raised concerns that while the contracting and licensing terms for those services were favourable to South Africa, it was not the same case in the region.

The organisation’s chief executive Sandile Malinga aired those views on Tuesday during a panel discussion at the ongoing 62nd International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town.

He was one of the panelists along with Andile Ngcaba chairman of Johannesburg-based Dimension Data and Nigeria’s Seidu Oneilo Mohammed of the National Space Research and Development Agency among others.

The topic centred on policies, objectives and expectations by African space agencies.

Malinga said their expectations on space were shaped by South Africa’s national priorities.  He said that space activities had many benefits such as helping in disaster management as well as staving off unemployment which currently stood at 25 percent.

He commended about a hundred companies in the country who were involved in the space industry saying they were doing a good job.

Malinga said the country was ready to form global partnerships in order to speed up its space programmes.

Citing SA as the only country with active space programmes, he highlighted that contracting terms for satellite services from outside the continent were not favourable to the Southern African region.

He said it was SA’s duty “to reach out to its neighbours” and a developmental business model on contracting satellite services should be put in place.

“We can change the model of doing business going forward,” he said.

According to Ngcaba, Africa was a big market for space services as global powers were already on the continent exploring for gas or oil.
As a growing market, he said that African space agencies and the large industry should work together.  “We need global partnerships. No entity can work alone. Nobody has unlimited resources,” he said.

The need for partnerships were also highlighted by Mohammed, who indicated that Nigeria was losing about $I50 billion in “capital flight” per year on acquisition of satellite services.  He said that they were set to collaborate with SA on the development of satellites.

On the sidelines, Patsa Khotso, an engineering student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) told BuaNews that he was proud to be part of a group of students who built a small satellite at the university.  Khotso said that he built a subcomponent of the satellite which was unveiled last Friday and is now set for launch into space.

“I’m excited. The project brought young people together. This is an interesting field for me,” he said. Khotso said the industry should grow in order to create more jobs.

Source – Bua News By Francis Hweshe, October 4, 2011