Nigeria sends its first satellite into space, while others like Egypt, Ghana and the UGANDU space agency in South Africa work towards the goal of becoming fully self-reliant with space capabilities.
In addition to sending spacecraft into space, these nations are investing in space applications – such as better Earth observation, weather forecasting and agriculture.
Nigeria’s maiden satellite is intended to bring education, healthcare and energy to rural communities.
General Abdulsalami Abubakar first sat on the continent’s first satellite in 2006. Ghana also launched a satellite in 2006 and 2010.
The launch is significant because since 1966, only 50 nations in the world have contributed to the growing space industry, representing less than one percent of the world’s satellites.
Mohammed al-Radda, director of Nasa’s Small Launch Vehicle Demonstration and Development Site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, says a large part of the difficulty in Africa is funding, and the continent needs to focus on becoming self-sufficient in space with technologies, since it now accounts for up to 18 percent of all developing nations’ economic output.
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In these countries, budgets to support space activities are still relatively low, even though nations, such as Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria, have been sending and launching satellites into space for decades.
Under US President Donald Trump, the government has committed to sending a car-sized satellite to orbit by late 2020.
The US has the largest share of space in the world, with more than 17,000 satellites to supply communications, weather forecasts and navigation services to the global public and military, according to USA Today.