A budget of R100-million has been allocated to South Africa’s  satellite development programme over the next three years.

A workshop on how space technology can benefit southern African users was recently attended by 48 delegates from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Held at the SA National Space Agency (SANSA) headquarters in Hartebeeshoek, the workshop was organised by a European Commission project, the Group on Earth Observation Network for Capacity Building (GEONETCab).

Delegates heard how the South African National Space Programme (NSP) is designing a 2030 space vision for the country. Success stories include the multi-government departmental licence for acquiring SPOT satellite imagery.

Earth observation (EO) products that monitor and map the environment have huge potential for business and social use – from early detection of fires to disaster relief, says Andiswa Mlisa, the programme director of Umvoto Africa.

The earth sciences consultancy and the SA National Space Agency (SANSA) are the Southern Africa partners on the GEONetCab project.

Examples of EO projects include the Active Fire Detection System, which has a 70% to 81% success rate of detecting fires before flashovers. The system could be rolled out beyond SADC countries and to other applications.

Various funding programmes co-ordinated by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) were presented. In most of these programmes, the DST provides support funds for South African participants.  The funding could be co-investment in a project or seed funding for attending proposal preparation meetings in Europe.