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Tackling Africa's Problems with Satellite Data

Kenya recently launched the Taifa-1 satellite, joining a cohort of African nations embracing space programs to address pressing issues like climate change, food shortages, insecurity and telecommunications. Its first Earth observation satellite is set to provide critical data on afforestation, land use, and more, aiding in strategic planning for food reserves among other interventions.

Currently, thirteen African countries— including Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and Morocco— have initiated space programs, contributing to a continent-wide space economy valued at $19.5 billion in 2022, with expectations to rise to $22.6 billion by 2026. These programs are instrumental for gathering data to inform governmental decisions on agriculture, urbanization, and environmental management, underscoring satellites as pivotal tools for local problem-solving and technological advancement. According to the WEF, data collected from space could unlock $2 billion a year in benefits for the continent.

The African Union emphasizes the significance of a unified space strategy to surmount developmental hurdles and infrastructure gaps, heightened by climate change’s impacts. African space initiatives not only foster innovation and international cooperation but also promise substantial economic and safety benefits through detailed land surveillance supported by artificial intelligence and policy-making informed by satellite data.

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