Johannesburg – South African National Space Agency (Sansa) has been awarded R4.47billion in additional funding to develop the Space Infrastructure Hub as part of the government’s Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium initiative.
This comes after the government agency submitted a proposal following an intervention introduced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to focus on investment infrastructure as part of the country’s economic recovery plan.
Ramaphosa hosted an infrastructure development symposium which was followed by 270 proposals for consideration. Five were considered as high priority for the country; among those there was Sansa, which went on to emerge victorious.
The total value of the Sansa pitch amounted to R4.47bn, which will be blended finance from different financial resources, including parliamentary grants and debt equity financing over a three-year period with an expected internal rate of return of 11%, which is projected on essential services.
According to Higher Education Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande, the Space Infrastructure Hub marks a significant milestone for the South African space sector to build an indigenous space capability.
“This project will position space data as a tool for sustainable development, especially addressing our government’s national priorities, and for commercial use in thematic areas such as remote sensing navigation and space sciences.”
Nzimande described space work as an integral part of achieving their developmental work as a country.
“Our concept of the space infrastructure hub is based on the space value chain, which will include a number of satellites which will be built to collect crucial information. The project could allow us to map the whole of South Africa with regards to connectivity,” he said.
The minister added that a number of innovations will be established through this project. Among those is a space weather centre valued at R90million.
Sansa chief executive Valanathan Munsami said a space and infrastructure hub is a requirement in government that they are responding to.
“The success of this space programme is on product and services, the infrastructure that is being put in place is just an enabler to achieve that. The core is on product and services but you need the infrastructure.”
Munsami said for a very long time government entities have been using satellite or space-based information to drive evidence-based policymaking.
“To inform those policy choices, you need information and some of that information comes from satellite platforms.”
Munsami said preliminary investigations have indicated that there is a requirement for space-based information in the banking and insurance sector which will help them make business decisions.