The African continent, with over one billion people, has the fastest growing population in the world. The majority of the population lives in poverty, and the 53 states on the continent are still classified by the United Nations and International Monetary Fund as developing countries. They are facing problems in meeting the basic needs of their people in basics such as food, water, housing, and in healthcare and education.
Sustainable development in Africa requires access to data, information, knowledge and in all of these areas space technologies through the use of satellites can provide tremendous benefit. The transversal nature of space touches a wide range of policy issues, including environment, agriculture, health, security, education, and disaster management, and effective use of space assets can significantly facilitate growth and sustainable development across the continent.
Although there is much activity in the African continent regarding space applications, little is known about how space applications are utilized by African actors, and how cooperation between Africa and Europe is organized and conducted on various levels. Hence, this White Paper attempts to give such an overview.
It begins by discussing the various bodies involved in African- European cooperation, and the various African and European actors with a space interest in particular. It then examines the political, economic, social, technological and legal barriers to making greater use of space applications, before offering conclusions and outlook on how this situation can be improved, and space can be used more widely for sustainable development. No other continent can benefit more fundamentally from space applications than Africa, and it will be through partnerships such as the one between Europe and Africa that will be instrumental for realizing this great potential and improving the living conditions and prospects of its vast population.