Centre for a Spacefaring Civilization – Written evidence (ZAF0015)


Executive Summary:


About Us:

  1. The Centre for a Spacefaring Civilization is an independent think tank and research centre focused on space law and policy, specifically those issues that need to be addressed in order for humanity to become a spacefaring civilization. We take a holistic and multidisciplinary view of the field and promote the sustainable and equitable development of space, keeping in mind the interests of all nations and peoples. We are headquartered in the United Kingdom but are virtually operated, and globally focused. The Centre for a Spacefaring Civilization aims to be a credible and objective source of leadership and information on space law and policy topics. We take a global, long term, and multidisciplinary approach to these issues and seek to forge relations based on mutual respect, trust, and transparency.
  2. The Centre for a Spacefaring Civilization has submitted this written evidence because we believe in the value of international cooperation and the use of space and space assets to promote sustainable and equitable development in the interest and for the benefits of all nations and peoples. Furthermore, space infrastructure is vital to the achievement of the UN’s SDGs, as highlighted by the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the UK is in a position to be a global leader on this given the move away from the European Union.



  1. There’s an emerging African Space Sector: The African Space Market is currently worth over £5 billion (USD 7 billion) and it is projected to reach USD 10 billion in 2024.[1] During the last 20 years, 35 satellites were launched by African countries, 15 of which were launched within the last 4 years.[2]  Additionally, from these 35 satellites 4 countries (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa) are also members of the Commonwealth. 19 African countries have some form of national space programme,[3] with South African and its South African National Space Agency (SANSA) being the most prominent example.
  2. The role of space in the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Agenda 2063 sets seven aspirations “for the Africa we want”[4]. Aspiration seven, “Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner” directly mentions space as one of the global commons. Furthermore, the creation of an African Outer Space Strategy was listed among the Agenda 2063 Flagship Projects, “which have been identified as key to accelerating Africa’s economic growth and development”[5]. As a result of this, in 2017, the African Union has established an African Space Policy and an African Space Strategy, outlining their vision, needs, and goals of the continent. [6] [7] The African Space Policy and African Space Strategy underline clear relevance of international partnerships, with a specific mention to capacity building and human capital development.
  3. The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme and Africa: The IPP is a 5 year, GBP 152 million programme focused on “deliver[ing] a sustainable economic or societal benefit to emerging and developing economies around the world”[8]. The IPP is conducted in alignment with the UK aid strategy and the UN SDGs.[9] As a grant-based programme, the IPP supports projects around the world, including 15 projects in 16 different African Sub-Saharan countries, with British stakeholders jointly working with in-country experts.[10] The IPP will cover projects until 2021.
  4. The Space4SDGs Initiative: Currently the UNOOSA has an initiative called “Space4SDGs” which highlights how space applications can support the sustainable development goals.[11] Earth Observation and Remote Sensing support issues such as climate change, disaster management, agricultural issues, migration, water depletion, and more. Additionally, space applications can support those SDGs focused on aspects such as gender equality[12] through the “space for women” initiative or partnerships for the goals[13] through public and private sector initiatives and the International Space Station.
  5. Capacity Building with Space Applications: Currently the space sector has various programmes centred around capacity building through the use of space applications.[14] UNOOSA co-hosts various workshops around the world in order for delegates to learn more about how space can be beneficial toward SDGs and societal needs. Additionally, UNOOSA supports capacity building for space law. UNOOSA is also connected to the Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education[15]; two of which are in Africa – Morocco[16] and Nigeria[17].
  6. African States in the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS): Currently there are 92 Member States attending COPUOS, including the United Kingdom and of which nineteen are from Africa. These African Member States include – Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, and Tunisia. *Bold denotes members of the Commonwealth as well.


The Centre for a Spacefaring Civilization Recommends that the UK government


  1. Recommendation 1: Initiate cooperation with the African Union and its member states using the space sector as a platform. The African Space Policy understands that “space science and technology provide an ideal platform to support the development of a knowledge-based economy.”[18] The Policy further mentions the UK as a key example of this ideal. This leads to way to encourage cooperation between the AU and the UK on how to set up and utilise a robust space sector platform for a knowledge-based economy to grow within and between the AU member states.
  2.                     Recommendation 2: Frame cooperation in terms of capacity building and workforce development. This cooperation should be based on the needs highlighted by the African Space Strategy and Policy, as well as on the Joint communiqué on the African Union-United Kingdom partnership, in which “[t]he two sides have agreed to invest in people and build opportunities to deliver a skilled workforce through shared work on education, science and technology and skills development to reap the benefits of increased stability and prosperity”.[19] The African Space Policy clarifies the unsustainability of a continental space sector dependent on third countries’ financial means, highlighting instead a basic need for expertise (including from African diaspora), knowledge and technological transfer, to allow the sector to take off and become self-sustaining. Leveraging the United Kingdom’s space sector experience, by investing in people and capacity building activities the UK would position itself as an influential player in the emerging African space sector helping to facilitate the ambition for a renewed global Britain once the UK has left the European Union.
  3.                     Recommendation 3: Engage with African partners to encourage women, young people and disabled persons to participate in space related training and jobs. The African Space Policy highlights the importance of participation from women and young people in space activities. “Priority attention will be given to ensuring gender equity and the involvement of young people in space-related activities. This imperative cuts across all policy principles and objectives advocated in this policy.”[20] Using the UK’s robust inclusion policy would serve as a positive example for how to promote a similar inclusion in the African space sector.
  4.                     Recommendation 4: Engage with African partners in global space governance fora. In alignment with SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, in the Joint Communique both parties agreed to work together to promote and protect an equitable and inclusive rules-based international system; the African Union Agenda 2063’s calls for Africa as a strong, united and influential global player and partner, also mentioning space.[21] Given these points, the United Kingdom could leverage the Joint Communique and the eagerness of African countries to be involved in global governance fora, and engage with these in discussions during COPUOS sessions
  5.                     Recommendation 5: Work to ensure certainty for post-IPP (2022) initiatives. The IPP is a 5 year-long programme, ending in 2021. It is in the interest of all the parties involved to have a new framework ready by 2022. (SME) British space industry players might be interested in continuing partnerships and programmes, but a lack of certainty can delay or deter additional efforts and investments in this sense. In general, not using all the intangible assets, knowledge and relationships developed with the IPP might mean losing them, thus nullifying the IPP capacity-building goals.


Received 15 January 2020



[1] Space in Africa, Extract: African Space Industry Annual Report, Edition 2019, June 2019, https://africanews.space/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Space-in-Africa-Extract-New-Final-2.pdf (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[2] Ibid.

[3] EE Publishers, Latest African space industry report shows sector growth, 25 June 2019, www.ee.co.za/article/latest-african-space-industry-report-shows-sector-growth.html (accessed 13 Jan 2020).

[4] African Union Commission, Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, April 2015.

[5] African Union, Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063, n.d., https://au.int/en/agenda2063/flagship-projects (accessed 13 Jan 2020).

[6] African Union Commission, African Space Policy, HRST/STC-EST/Exp./15 (II), Oct. 2017.

[7] African Union Commission, African Space Strategy, HRST/STC-EST/Exp./16 (II), Oct. 2017.

[8] UK Space Agency, UK Space Agency International Partnerships Programme (IPP), April 2019, p. 6.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., pp. 16-17.

[11] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Space Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, n.d., www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/space4sdgs/index.html (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[12] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality, n.d., www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/space4sdgs/sdg5.html (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[13] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals, n.d., www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/space4sdgs/sdg17.html (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[14] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Topics, n.d., www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/topics/index.html (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[15] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education (affiliated to the United Nations), n.d., www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/regional-centres/ (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[16] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education- in French Language (CRASTE-LF), n.d., www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/regional-centres/craste-lf.html (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[17] United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education - in English Language (ARCSSTE-E), n.d., www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/psa/regional-centres/arcsste-e.html (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[18] African Union Commission, African Space Policy, HRST/STC-EST/Exp./15 (II), Oct. 2017.

[19] African Union, Joint Communiqué on the African Union-United Kingdom Partnership, 22 Feb. 2019, https://au.int/en/pressreleases/20190222/joint-communiqu%C3%A9-african-union-united-kingdom-partnership (accessed 13 Jan. 2020).

[20] African Union Commission, African Space Policy, HRST/STC-EST/Exp./15 (II), Oct. 2017.

[21] African Union Commission, Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, April 2015, page 9-10.