The African Space Generation Workshop (AF-SGW) was a two-day regional workshop for students and young professionals in the African region. The 1st AF-SGW was held on the 16-17 November 2017 in Akure City, Nigeria was organised by the Space Generation Advisory Council(African Region) and hosted by the Centre for Space Research and Applications, Federal University of Technology, Akure. (CESRA-FUTA). The workshop had up to 100 African delegates focusing on university students (BSc, MSc, PhD students) and young professionals working in the African space sector.
SGAC in support of the United Nations Programme on Space applications is a global non-governmental, non-profit organisation and network which aims to represent university students and young space professionals within the ages of 18-35 to the United Nations, space agencies, space industry, and the academia. Hence the event was focused on bringing together students and young professionals interested in space in the region.
The AF-SGW with the theme- Space: The Driver of the Desired Future in Africa featured discussions aimed at producing recommendations to public, private and nongovernmental stakeholders. The recommendations are towards shaping and providing insights into the future of the African space sector.
Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu represented by his deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi declared the workshop open. He expressed optimism that the state government will engage all relevant technology solutions aimed at solving the various socio-economic issues in the state. The Governor expressed excitement that this is happening in the state following the participation of the Federal University of Technology Akure in the BIRDS programme to launch a CubeSat earlier in 2017.
The Governor added that his administration is not oblivious to the ability of satellite technology to help in getting the needed data for policymakers in engaging several intervention projects. He then called for more efforts to be made across the board to increase the participation of Africa in the space evolution.
It also featured a panel discussion on career building and development. Jeff Demain(CEO, Hantheon) ,Oluseye Soyode Johnson( African Technology Foundation), Hansley Noruthun (NPoC Mauritius), Maryanne Muriuki ( NPoC Kenya) and Funmi Erinfolami ( Outgoing NPoC Nigeria) shared thoughts on available opportunities and career drifts that Africans can leverage on in the space ecosystem. Former SGAC Executive Secretary, Ramasamy Venugopal moderated the session.
As part of the Workshop’s keynote sessions, Managing Director of the Nigerian Communications Satellite limited and Alumnus of the International Space University, Abimbola Alele gave a talk on connecting Africa using Satellite technologies; a case study of NIGCOMSAT.
She shared various ways on how Nigeria’s satellite is being deployed in various areas across the world in getting required satellite data for several intervention projects. According to her, the NigComSat-1R system provides domestic and international satellite services via a 2-way satellite communications service across West, Central, South East Africa; Europe and Asia.
Kitan David charged participants on driving productivity with the aid of technology: The New Normal while Emmanuel Odunlade from DevDistrict gave an ignite talk on solving Africa-centric problems with the application of space technologies.
On the second day delegates the workshop featured four working groups with industry mentors providing tangible recommendations on how the industry in Africa can go to the next level. The groups were: Space technologies development in Africa, Role of STEAM in developing the space industry in Africa, Space in driving the African economy/Aerospace startup and African space policy. In one of the working groups, it was discussed “Space in driving the African economy”, where the various value chains that African techpreneurs/countries can exploit in achieving economic success were discussed.
Working groups served as an integral part of the workshop with the overall aim of producing tangible deliverables resulting from robust discussions by the participants. The participants were divided into 4 groups where we discussed selected topical issues or themes that are relevant to the role of space science in society – these discussions were led by an Industry Mentors. The topic titles and final number was selected with deference to the interests and mandates of potential sponsors and partners.
The STEAM working group was titled Roles of STEAM in Developing the Space Industry in Africa. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics have always been the basis for the Space Industry – however, in a continent where they are currently being underdeveloped, we discussed about how to improve STEAM Education which is a bottom up approach to space manpower development in a land filled with several beliefs and cultural heritages. The output of the working group will be formally presented at the end of the workshop and submitted as SGAC recommendations to the relevant stakeholders and organisations including the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS).
CEO of Hantheon, Jeff Demain also shared insights on how Africa can leverage the various opportunities and platforms to join the community of nations exploring space for beneficial purposes.
The Workshop also featured a talk from a professor of the school that hosted the BIRD projects (of which Ghana and Nigeria) took part of, KyuTECH in Japan; Professor Maeda made a presentation on the project and added that, there are still opportunities for more countries who want to be a part of the cubeSAT project.