South Africa already started in 1999 and sent a small satellite called "Sunset" into space. Since then, four other sub-Saharan countries have implemented their own space programs: Kenya, Ghana, Angola and Nigeria. The number of African satellites in space has increased to more than a dozen. Others may be added if Ethiopia – as announced – also wants to send its own technology into space next year. But the development of their own space flight in Africa repeatedly provokes criticism. Because the programs cost a lot of money – which could be invested much better in the opinion of the critics. However, there are three reasons why own satellites in space can be a sensible investment for African countries.
1. Protection of existing infrastructure
Of course, at first glance, it seems strange to launch satellites into space when the power and road network is partially in a frightening state. In fact, the view from space can ensure that the existing infrastructure is better protected. In turn, this will make investment in new roads and power lines more likely. An example of this is the "Advanced Fire Information System" used by South Africa, which detects bush fires at an early stage and ideally avoids major damage to the infrastructure. Although the evaluated images are still from European and American satellites. By building up its own capacities, South Africa could install other similar protection programs.
2. fight against crime
Especially in large countries such as South Africa and Nigeria, the state can not ensure close control of uninhabited areas. However, satellite imagery helps detect many crimes early. These include, for example, illegal clearing or the unauthorized mining of natural resources. Nigeria, in turn, launched a satellite into space to oversee the extensive oil pipelines. Even in the fight against local militias and terrorist groups, regular images from space make sense to gain crucial insights. Of course, partial satellite images of other states can be used for this. These are rarely concentrated on the African continent. Own satellites therefore create completely new possibilities.
3. Economic development
Alone the agriculture of the continent could benefit enormously from more satellites and the data gained thereby. For example, if local rainfall could be better predicted, it would facilitate farmers' work and increase food production. In addition, new technological developments mean satellites are becoming cheaper and cheaper. So today often no huge communication satellites are used, but so-called Cubesats. These small cubes provide decent data and can be relatively easy and inexpensive to produce. The engineers required for this purpose can also be trained locally, which means that foreign expertise must be used less frequently.