Space policy published

South Africa’s National Space Policy, launched Friday, will give direction to the country’s space agenda, ministers say.
Bua News reports Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa says SA has been involved in various space programmes for over 50 years, but this participation was uncoordinated and static in manner, which prompted the need for a unified and coordinated space policy.

The Space Affairs Act mandates the minister of trade and industry to draft a space policy to guide the country and Mpahlwa says satellite technology can be beef up tele-health and tele-education, as well as disaster management.

A space policy and programme will help modernise SA and could significantly bridge the socio-economic disparity in society.

“We are continuing on a journey to better the lives of our people, by greater utilisation and greater exploration of space capabilities and possibilities,” he said. “To the rockets and satellites,” he said.
Mpahlwa said space technology would allow developing countries to “leapfrog” certain stages.
For example communication satellites could foster open lines between any two points without the need for ground-based infrastructure.
“This property of space systems also provides important societal benefits in areas such as disaster management where ground-based communications infrastructure is often unusable,” he said.
The Bua report adds that in the implementation of South Africa’s space agenda, the country will promote domestic industrialisation in order to maximise benefit to local companies, adding that leasing skills and goods from international companies will be discouraged.

Mpahlwa says SA’s space agenda creates the opportunity to better co-operation with nations interested in the peaceful expansion of the benefits of space technology, and could carry benefits for the continent.

The space agenda will improve and further South-South relations with Brazil, India and China.

Acting Deputy Director General of Trade & Industry Sipho Zokode adds the space policies paper was published in July 2007. Cabinet approved it on 3 December 2008. “We expect to have an implementation plan by the end of March 2009,” he said.

The SA Press Association adds that “while the policy could be loosely described as being authored by the Department of Trade and Industry it would be applied within the framework of the Department of Science and Technology`s strategy.”