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Africa eyes joint space agency

Ghana: Africa’s communications and IT ministers, at a conference in Sudan, decided that the African nations will work together towards creating a joint space agency for the nation. The agency, will be called AfriSpace, would enable “cooperation among African states in space research and technology and their space applications,” said a working document issued at the conference.

The document noted only “a tiny minority” of countries control space technologies which play a major role in everything from broadcasting to weather forecasting, agriculture, health, and environmental monitoring.

“A common continental approach will allow the sharing of risks and costs and ensure the availability of skilled and sufficient human resources,” the document said.

“It will also ensure a critical size of geographical area and population required in terms of the plan of action for some space applications.”

Among its roles, AfriSpace would implement a long-term African space policy, recommend “space objectives” to member states, and coordinate orbital slots and other space resources, the document said.

Twenty years ago, African nations decided to create the Regional African Satellite Communication Organisation (RASCOM), an intergovernmental commercial agency which in 2007 launched a pan-African telecommunications satellite.

A replacement satellite was launched from French Guyana in August 2010 to support health and education projects, broadband connectivity as well as voice, Internet, radio and TV broadcasting, RASCOM said on its website.

As broadband growth expands in Africa, information and communications technology demand is soaring, another conference document said.

“Demand, around 300 gigabits per second in 2009, will reach 6,000 gigabits per second by 2018,” it said.
A decision is expected next year by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which coordinates online domain names.

Source: Yahoo