The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) has been awarded R4.47-billion in additional funding for the next three years to develop the Space Infrastructure Hub (SIH).
The SIH is part of government’s Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa (Sidssa) initiative.
Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande on September 16 said the initiative represented a unique opportunity to demonstrate how science and innovation could contribute to socioeconomic wellbeing.
“Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Sansa and also thank the board, the senior management and all employees of Sansa for this ground-breaking achievement.” he said during a virtual briefing on the SIH.
Nzimande added that the departments of Higher Education and Training, and Science and Innovation remained true to the impact statement: "Enabling South Africa's sustainable and inclusive development in the face of rapid technological change and innovation".
“This SIH 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,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that Sansa’s pitch was considered one of the top five of the 88 projects that were considered to be bankable, chosen out of the 270 projects highlighted during the inaugural Sidssa hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June.
The Sidssa is an intervention, introduced by the President, to focus on infrastructure investment as part of South Africa’s economic recovery plan.
“The total value of the Sansa pitch was R4.47-billion of blended financing (parliamentary grants, debt and equity financing) over three years, with an expected internal rate of return of 11% over the next ten years,” said Nzimande.
He added that the projected rate of return was based on both the provision of essential services for use by government departments for evidence-based policy-making, based on spatial data spanning as far back as the early 1970s, and the accurate location-based services through operationalising a satellite-based augmentation service (SBAS) that was piloted in Southern Africa about five years ago.
He added that the concept of the SIH was based on the space value chain, including a number of satellite builds (earth observation and science missions), human capital and training.
“A new ground segment, an expanded data segment, new Data Visualization Centre, as well as the activation of the SBAS over Southern Africa, are also partly what the SIH is based upon,” he pointed out.
“Significant emphasis will now need to be expended in repositioning or reshaping the organisation to deliver on these exciting projects, which will require us to work seamlessly, with great speed and efficiency, while ensuring maximum impact, in order to deliver against our promised value proposition to potential investors,” said Nzimande.