International Space Forum at Ministerial Level, the African Chapter – ISFNairobi
The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) co-organised with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Ministry of Defence of Kenya, the African Chapter of the International Space Forum (ISF) in Nairobi, Kenya. This second edition of the ISF true to its purpose of reaching out to space developing and emerging nations focused on the African Region.
The importance of Space in facing Africa’s challenges is clear to all African countries: ‘maritime security, accurate weather forecast, industrial fishing, emergency operations, environment management’ as Xavier Estico, Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles National Institute for Science, Technology & Innovation claimed. Global space knowledge can also ‘foster development in higher education and eliminating gender disparities’ added Jean-Yves Le Gall, IAF President, because ‘when you educate a woman, you educate a village’ affirmed Raychelle Omamo, Ambassador of the Cabinet Secretary for Defence Kenya. Space has indeed ‘evolved from activities of few countries with mainly science and technology motives to a sector allowing direct socio-economic benefits for the involved countries’ declared Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the Executive Board of DLR. Space is also paramount ‘to maintain the national sovereignty and the territorial integrity in Africa’ as indicated by Daniel Antonio, High Commissioner of Mozambique in Kenya but also ‘to win the fight against poverty’ as mentioned by Mahmoud Hussien Ahmed, Chairman of the Egyptian National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space.
However, this last action must face the risk of ending the enormous abundance of African national resources if these ‘are not properly managed’ as pointed out by Mabvuto Sakala, Permanent Secretary of the Zambian Ministry of Higher Education. On this environmental sustainability need for an equitable allocation of the available resources, Jan Woerner, IAF Vice-President for Agency, Parliamentarian and Ministerial Relations, invited all African nations to ‘try to work as one because global challenges need a global cooperation’. Opportunely, the possibility to start working together is already offered to African Nations by Sergio Marchisio, Chairman of the European Centre for Space Law who called all African nations to ‘support the UNISPACE+50 initiative’ and Simonetta di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) invited all participants to the upcoming UNISPACE+50 Global Space Summit in Vienna, Austria. In this regard, also Val Munsami, IAF Vice-President for Developing Countries and Emerging Nations, clearly stated in his keynote speech that in order for Africa to accomplish its global goals for sustainable development ‘national space agencies must implement a common African space programme’.
To conclude the day, Roberto Battiston, ASI President, praised the remarkable level of the discussions on how to improve the economic and social well-being of people and stressed the importance of involving more the academia as ‘their knowledge and expertise can help in finding improved solutions in Africa’. Given the evident successes of the first ISF in Trento in 2016 and, again, of this second edition in Nairobi, in raising the international dialogue and creating networking collaborations, Raúl Kulichevky, Deputy Technical and Executive Director of the Argentinian National Commission of Space Activities (CONAE) announced the new regional chapter of the ISF focusing on South America to take place at the end of 2018 in Argentina. This new event perfectly fits in the IAF plans to reach out to space developing and emerging nations and continues to implement the IAF’s mission of connecting all space people.