Programs Policy in Context - Africans in Space


  • Date:
    Mar 30, 2023
  • End Date:
    Mar 30, 2023
  • Time:
    12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Location:


Can African countries today afford to prioritize looking towards space ?

Virtual Program

Thursday, March 30, 2023 | 12:00PM – 1:00PM ET

Tickets are free but registration is required in order to receive the Zoom link.

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Join us for the next installment in our Policy in Context Series, which will examine the continent’s role in emerging debates over territorial occupation of outer space by individual nation states, and to what extent it matters–socially, economically, and geopolitically–that Africa looks set to play a relatively diminished role in this sector. Elsabeth Tesfayohannes Tedros, Anna Aikohi, and Imraan Saloojee will be joining us to help understand both the origins of Africa’s involvement in space issues and what its future in this sector might entail. In recent years, lines have been drawn in a modern-day space race, developing in a much more crowded and heterogeneous arena. The UK and the EU both recently opened newly built spaceports to facilitate easier space travel for both government and commercial use, while Canada announced plans for a spaceport of its own. In 2022, China began to launch segments of its space station into orbit, while NASA continues to advance its plans to return a person to the moon for the first time since 1972 amidst fierce competition from equally ambitious private companies. Although overall spending on space programmes across Africa has steadily increased, the continent lags significantly behind much of the rest of the world on investments in outer-space initiatives, and only one African (and no black African) has ever been to space. In the context of arguably more pressing challenges, should Africa care about a global space race? And how, if at all, does it fit into the continent’s broader development ambitions? Through the conversation we hope to offer context for the current state of space initiatives across Africa, as well as provide rationale for their continued support. Speakers will also navigate issues such as economic sovereignty, emerging technological innovations for development, defense considerations, and the politics of national prestige.




Imraan Saloojee is an Executive Director at the Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability in Johannesburg. Mr. Saloojee has had an extensive career in the space sector, spanning more than two decades across the continent. Over this time he has gained national and international experience, which has enabled him to develop crucial networks in earth observations, science policy, business development and mining. Imraan’s research and policy interests center around strengthening private sector involvement in the African space ecosystems, and building sustainable space innovation ecosystems in Africa.  




Ms. Tedros is an experienced international development professional with an extensive career in infrastructure finance and as a private sector engagement adviser in Africa. She currently serves as a Principal Programme Officer at the African Union Development Agency – NEPAD, where she works to leverage effective public-private sector engagements for stronger development outcomes. Much of her work has been within public and private institutions, providing cutting edge global and cross-sectorial project finance and strategy solutions for several large-scale energy and transport deals in Africa and the Americas. She is also an alumna of the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Programme.




Anna Aikohi, ACA. is the Chief Operating Officer at Space in Africa. Before joining Space in Africa, Anna worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where she led and conducted several projects, including tax, strategic business and market/industry analysis, business structuring, research and forecast for clients in various industries.She has also coordinated several consulting projects for both foreign and indigenous space institutions, government agencies and parastatals, and private institutions; which cuts across National Space Policy, Earth Observation, Communications, Positioning and Navigation, Satellite Technology Development, Launch operations, Geospatial Operations, and Astronomy.Anna also co-authored several projects, including the African Space Industry Annual Report 2021 editions, Global Space Budget Report and the NewSpace Africa Industry Report 2021 edition, which are among the most sought-after reports regarding the African space and satellite industry. She has extensive experience providing a wide range of industry and market analysis, research, business development, tax advisory, and consulting services to an array of clients in various segments of the African science and technology industry.  




Tunde Olatunji is the Associate Director of Policy at The Africa Center, working on programming and initiatives to further the institution’s policy practice and contribute to thought leadership on African policy issues. His background is in policy research and analysis primarily in the international development and climate change spaces, having worked on several research and evaluations projects across Africa and the Middle-East. He is interested in climate & renewables policy, political economies, and people-centered policymaking. He holds a BA in International Studies from the University of Richmond, a Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University, and an MPA in Environmental Science & Policy from Columbia University.