Africa’s space industry is enjoying enormous growth, especially in recent years, according to research that forecasts continued growth in the next five years.
The African space market is now worth an estimated $7.3 billion annually and is expected to exceed $10 billion by 2024, according to the African Space Industry Annual Report.
Around 8,500 people are employed in Africa’s space industry.
From 1998 to April 2019, 32 satellites were launched into orbit by eight African countries. Egypt launched a satellite in November 2019.
The countries with satellites in orbit include Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa.
In addition to the 33 government and private-owned satellites funded by a single country that were sent into space, African space agencies jointly funded three other satellite projects — RASCOM-QAF1, RASCOM-QAF1R, and New Dawn — that were designed for regional operations.
The growth of the industry has been particularly noticeable in recent years as 16 of the 36 satellites were launched since 2016, Africa Space News reports.
The African satellites in orbit include 14 earth observation satellites, 11 communications satellites, eight technology demonstration satellites, a satellite for scientific experiments, an educational project satellite, and a military radar satellite, according to the report.
The industry’s growth is attributed to increasing business opportunities for local and foreign companies within the African space industry, such as in the case of a satellite launched to improve internet coverage or access to satellite television channels.
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In some cases, the opportunities are aligned to the strategic priorities of African governments. An example of this was the recently launched TIBA-1 communications satellite.
The satellite is expected to provide broadband communications and internet services to millions of people in remote and rural areas while also providing secure communication for the Egyptian military and government agencies.