SA recommits to peaceful use of outer space

Thursday, June 21, 2018

South Africa remains committed to fostering the peaceful use of the outer space environment, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Bulelani Magwanishe.

Delivering the country statement at the UNISPACE+50 High-Level Segment of the 61st session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPOUS) on Wednesday, Magwanishe said South Africa is committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer-space activities.

Magwanishe said the country is keen on developing global partnerships in the space arena.

“South Africa has keen interest in global partnerships concerning space exploration and innovation, and will continue to prioritise this area for economic development, as Africa’s economy is increasingly becoming space-dependent.

“Space related products have proven to contribute to the alleviation of key societal challenges that are still plaguing the continent and other developing countries,” said the Deputy Minister.

Magwanishe is leading a delegation to the UNISPACE+50 Symposium in Vienna, Austria, at a time where the international outer space community is gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

South Africa played a role in the development and adoption of the African Space Policy and Strategy in 2016.

The adoption of these framework documents by African Union Head of States provides a foundation, for collective collaboration on African Space activities. Magwanishe said this has set the basis for space governance on the continent and strategic space engagements leading to the Africa Agenda 2063.

Magwanishe also welcomed the move by Mauritius and Ethiopia, who have applied for membership of COPOUS and would join other African countries in moving towards the progressive participation of the continent and having it being thoroughly represented in outer space governance. 

Magwanishe confirmed South Africa’s endorsement of the Draft UNISPACE+50 Resolution for the development of the 2030 Space Agenda and further affirmed that South Africa will continue to spearhead regional and international co-operation.

Signing of MoUs 

Meanwhile, space agencies of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries are expected to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation on BRICS remote sensing satellite constellation to be signed in South Africa in July 2018.

The United Arab Emirates Space Agency and South African National Space Agency are also expected to sign a MoU regarding cooperation in the exploration and use of space for peaceful purposes. -