Africa’s development and growth remains insufficient to make a dent on unemployment and poverty. This is made evident by the Continent’s inability to provide her growing populations with good jobs and social protection and a healthy standard of living.

How can the Continent overcome her challenges? Through greater cooperation, policy injection and human capital development (emphasis on women and youth).

A. Greater cooperation
The need for greater African economic integration is ever urgent. African countries need to work together to promote peace and stability while addressing trade obstacles, climate change, corruption, cyber-security and the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This can be achieved through united growth enhancing policies. This is why the decision of African political leaders to move forward with Africa’s economic integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is exciting.

The focus of the African Development Bank in bringing forth a borderless Africa is commendable as it would lay the foundation for a viable continental market to accelerate growth and allow Africa to be more competitive in global trade and value chains. It would also allow industries to develop across borders, creating economies of scale for investors as they look at wider integrated markets.

B. Policy injection
Africa must develop policies and focus her resources on thriving sectors. Policies that include sectors like science and technology, agriculture, services and mining, that design data-dependent policies that boost productivity and long-term growth, cut debt and reduce Africa’s vulnerability to economic downturns.

C. Human capital development
A healthy and educated working age population is the cornerstone of sustained and inclusive economic success. It lifts living standards and the dignity of people. As submitted by the World Bank, adequate health levels, in tandem with quality education for children, is a great indicator of an economy’s future progress.

According to the African Development Bank, Africa’s working-age population is projected to increase from 705 million in 2018 to almost 1 billion by 2030. As millions of young people join the labour market, the pressure to provide quality jobs will escalate. Africa’s labour market is dominated by the informal sector, which is a default option for a large majority of the unemployed youth and women.

It is imperative that any agenda for Africa’s participation in continental-level space activities should promote the empowerment of women and the youth. If these two groups are healthy, educated and confident, they will contribute to the health and well-being of whole families, communities and nations.

To establish any agenda which will impact Africa’s development and growth therefore, the promotion of the political, economic and social status of women and youth is a critical precursor and they must be included in the setting up of any such agenda. Accordingly, priority attention should be given to ensuring gender equity and the involvement of young people in space-related activities. This imperative cuts across all policy principles and objectives advocated in this policy.

To make their mark in the space community, women need to undertake studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Yet women and girls are still poorly represented in these areas.

STEM is the key driving force in today’s economic development. The future success of nations increasingly depend on their scientific and technological capabilities. It is not out of place to say that the process of critical thinking, using STEM and understanding its social impacts are very important in today’s ever changing world. Basic knowledge of STEM at least, is now among the generic skills for survival on the new economy.

Unfortunately, in Africa, women under representation in STEM has persisted over the years, despite efforts to close the gender gap. The presence of women in the fields of STEM remains signit9 lower than that of wmn even in some of the world’s most developed regions. The low participation of women in STEM must be jettisoned if Africa really aspires for socio economic emancipation. This gender gap in STEM does not favour development, particularly in this knowledge economy thay is driven by science and technology innovations. Men outnumber women as students, educators, researchers and workers in STEM fields.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to change the course of the twenty-first century by addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality and violence against women. Women’s empowerment is a precondition, as women have a critical role to play in efforts to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment both as the objective and as part of the solution.

Goal 4 on “Quality education” reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. One of the aims of SDG 4 is to achieve equal and universal access to a quality higher education, which is of utter importance for the STEM fields, as the gap between boys and girls is growing with the level of education. This has direct implications on the opportunities for a better employment and thus results in disparities between salaries of man and women. STEM education plays a major factor in diminishing the disparities as STEM jobs tend to offer highly paying jobs. Space represents a swiftly growing industry and its current value of over $380 billion is estimated to triple in the next 30 years.

Goal 5 on “Gender equality” is known as the stand-alone gender goal because it is dedicated to achieving these ends. SDG 5 targets include ensuring women’s empowerment – including at decision-making levels in leadership – in political participation, economic empowerment, ensuring a life free of violence and elimination of harmful practices, control over reproductive health and rights, and reforms to give women access to economic resources including natural resources. Importantly, one of the targets (5b) calls for enhancing the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.

Despite the above, why are there still so few African women in science, and how might that affect what we learn from research?

Women now make up half the national workforce, earn more college and graduate degrees than men, and by some estimates represent the largest single economic force in the world. Yet the gender gap in science persists, to a greater degree than in other professions, particularly in high-end, math-intensive fields such as computer science and engineering.
Some factors hindering women include stereotypes, family and spousal burdens and many cultural forces—ranging from girls being steered toward other professions from an early age and gender bias and sexual harassment in the workplace to the potentially career-stalling effects on women of having children.

So what difference does it make when there is a lack of women in science?

AIssue of misdiagnosis: For one, it means women might not get the quality of health care that men receive. For generations, the model used in biomedical research to design drugs and products for everyone has been predicated on the physiology of an average-size male, historically the standard reference figure in Gray’s Anatomy, the medical textbook first published in the 1850s. This meant that women with heart disease have been misdiagnosed in emergency rooms and sent home, possibly to die from heart attacks, because for decades what we know now wasn’t known: that they can exhibit different symptoms from men for cardiovascular disease

B. Gender and the Nature of Discovery: “We can be interested in women and science, and their participation, and how many are here and there,” she says. “But the big difference is, what knowledge and technologies do you have? What’s the outcome? Who are things designed for? Science will be more relevant for women if women were involved in them. In relation to development in engineering with ‘smart houses,’ ” San Francisco State University provost and gender studies, professor Susan Rosser maintains that “You get your heat connected and lights turned on and alarm systems set. They’re all about control. It’s not like what a woman might want”—or be more likely to think of. “Like, can we invent something where the house cleans itself?”It’s certainly not that men couldn’t invent a house that cleans itself, she says. They just may be less likely to rank it as high as women might in the hierarchy of possibilities, if they think of it at all.

C. The Power of Collaboration: Including gender in research could attract more women to science as well, because careers and avenues of research suddenly can become relevant to women. It’s been shown that when more women get involved in the sciences—or any field historically dominated by men—the general knowledge in that field tends to expand. Stanford science historian Londa Schiebinger, leader in the Gendered Innovations movement, an international collaborative made up of natural scientists, engineers, and gender experts maintains that “There are lots of places where you can show the direct link between increase in number of women and outcome in knowledge. Involving more qualified women can enrich the creativity and insight of research projects and increase the chances for true innovation”. Africa is currently lacking this creativity on the desired scale as women involvement in STEM is very minimal.

D. Decrease in the range of inventions and breakthroughs: According to the Atlantic Monthly magazine’s cover story in May 2014, “Half a dozen global studies, conducted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Columbia University, have found that companies employing women in large numbers outperform their competitors on every measure of profitability.” Analysts say that more women are needed in research to increase the range of inventions and breakthroughs that come from looking at problems differently than men typically do and if this is lacking in Africa, it slows down the development of the continent technologically.


  1. Financial Impact in the space sector as more capacity in terms of work force will increase the GDP and the overall worth of the African economy
  2. Diversity of ideas: Analysts maintain thay more women are needed in research to increase the range of inventions and breakthroughs that come from looking at problems differently than men typically do. This also increases profit. Thus inclusion of women will lead to diversity of ideas and make the space environment better.
  3. General impact on societal perception of woman. More women in the space industry will show that Africa is developing of and breaking negative sociocultural sector. This will ultimately improve Africa’s standing in the eyes of the civilized nations and hopefully lead to greater investment opportunities.

In other to ensure inclusiveness of women in matters of space, the following are some recommendations:

A. States must
i.) Provide clear and explicit provisions in constitution and legislation on gender equality and non-discrimination against women

ii.) Introduce, in the electoral legislation, specific measures aimed at promoting women’s representation in elected public bodies at all levels and establish quotas of at least 30 per cent in all decision-making positions.

iii.) Organize training on gender equality for civil servants and awareness-raising activities on gender equality for educators and students, at all levels.

iv.) Organize increased training for women on matters of space.

v.) Promote women’s access to education and introduce specific measures aimed at addressing the illiteracy rate among women.

vi.) The Continent’s Education Programme must increase the literacy of young women in STEM subjects by exploiting the fascination for space and by using space as a learning, teaching and training context. This will motivate them to pursue a career in the space sector in particular.

At primary and secondary level, classroom resources and training sessions for teachers should be undertaken. The adoption of innovative teaching methodologies and programmes, which directly reflect the real-life scientific and technical processes applied within the space sector, provides an extremely exciting learning environment for both boys and girls. Classroom resources and training sessions for teachers should be undertaken in an extremely exciting learning environment.

vii.) Develop specific policies to increase the number of women in STEM and ensure that these policies designed to promote women’s participation include accountability measures;

To this end government should create mechanisms to hold all sectors accountable for addressing gender equality issues such a High Authority on Gender Parity.

viii.) Involve the media in promoting a culture of gender equality and combating gender-based stereotypes.

ix.) Government policy should promote the inclusion of more women in parliament to develop legislation that promote women in space.

B. Civil Society
Women who are active in civil society must do more to prepare women and girls to reach for the stars.

CThe United Nations and other multilateral and bilateral development partners are enjoined to provide financial and technical support to build women’s capacity to become effective leaders, mentors, managers and ultimately change agents.

D. Africa’s spaceflight programs must be dedicated to the training of highly skilled astronauts, both male and female. One of the first steps to take in order to eliminate the evident gap is to support women in these fields and to support those that want to pursue a path in science. By creating more educational opportunities, eliminating the wage gap and giving recognition to those women who have pioneered a trail in the industry, like Katherine Johnson and Valentina Tereshkova, (the 1st woman in space in 1963) we would be providing more support for current and future STEM women.

E. There must also be a global network of role models and mentors to promote careers in STEM and the Space sector. Female engineers, coders and astronauts must meet and connect with young people. The key importance of promoting female role models within the space sector cannot be over emphasized. Astronauts, as well as female engineers and programmers are important figures that can inspire the next generation to pursue a career in STEM.

FAttract women to careers in science and technology via space exhibitions designed to showcase girls dreaming about space and women working in space, to share their inspiring stories with young girls on space technology. Scientists, engineers, students, professors and astronauts: there are women passionate about space working in all areas of space science and technology. Yet in many cases, they are still in the minority.

G. To have more women in space, there must be a conscious efforts to expand women’s opportunities for leadership and increase their visibility in the aerospace sector.
Women must be encouraged to:
• Have a strong engagement, high motivation and zeal for hard work.
• Be able to take some risks and in particular in terms of mobility (changing jobs, countries,..)
• Be deeply convinced that they can access the same jobs as any male colleague.

H. Allocation of adequate resources to ensure effective and sustainable implementation of the commitments is yet an issue. It is therefore suggested that donor funding should not be targeted only to government institutional capacity building but to also be extended to women interested in space.

IThe need for affirmative action: The economic empowerment of women cannot be realised if women are absent from the governance of their countries. There is a need for countries to ensure the implementation of affirmative action policies. In countries including Ghana, Benin and Sierra Leone, where affirmative action bills are pending passage, civil society has a critical role to play in advocating for the passage of these bills and educating the population on their importance and merit. Civil society’s capacity must be strengthened to enable them to successfully undertake these tasks.

J. Strategies must be actionable and inclusive: Governments should ensure that their National Space and Financial Inclusion Strategies are not only well-crafted documents but actionable roadmaps, truly inclusive of women. These strategies should recognise the distinct ways in which men and women are denied access to financial resources for pace activities and work to respond to the needs of all, with strategic focus on women’s financial inclusion.

We must enhance partnerships and promote efforts to encourage women and girls to become involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education – especially in developing countries. We are excited by the feat performed by Jessica Meir and Christiana Koch for achieving the 1st all female space walk on 18 October, 2019.

The potential of young people is the driving force of our collective prosperity. This is particularly relevant to Africa, whose population is projected to represent over 40 per cent of the world’s young people, in less than three generations. By 2050, the teeming numbers of young Africans are forecast to form over a quarter of the world’s labour force. Moreover, there is growing consensus that Africa’s youthfulness will continue to grow for the next 50 years while the other continents are ageing. However, young Africans who should give momentum to the continent’s transformation are largely alienated and marginalized. Although past decades have seen advances in terms of policy commitments to youth development, both nationally and regionally, such gains have not always been matched by actions on the ground. Far too many young people are still jobless, and struggle to access public resources and quality social services. They are barely involved in policy formulation and programme design as their participation in politics and decision-making is limited and often ad hoc. At the same time, the yardstick for success of African countries will be adequately measured by future generations if policies are weighted against action to foster transformative and inclusive development.
Governments and other key actors could ensure that policy and service delivery achieves meaningful results for Africa’s youth, particularly those who are disadvantaged and marginalized. Indeed, Africa’s children can scale the ladder of hope based on decisions we take. The analysis suggests that young people must be meaningfully involved in the implementation and tracking of the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063. Engaging the youth of Africa and meeting the expectations for a more inclusive future requires a better understanding of their needs, interests, challenge s, potential as well as their diversity.

Africa has the world’s youngest population and it is growing rapidly. At present, young people aged between 15 and 24 years constitute 19.4 per cent of the total population, while children under 15 years are nearly 41 per cent of the total population.

By sheer numbers alone, the choices, opportunities and constraints of young people will continue to play a major role in shaping Africa’s development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 underscore the importance of promoting rights of young people and meeting their needs, in all their diversity. Engaging young people is central to the successful implementation of the transformative agenda in Africa. In order to advance the continent’s space sector and economy, it will demand young Africans to steer the course of scientific activities in the continent.

Many African youths today have fully embraced space technology but they need the institutional catalysts of their governments, the African Union and Universities to thrive and make meaningful contributions.

The pertinent question then becomes: “what can be done to increase and ensure youth participation in the continent’s space program? Achieving these aspirations requires an understanding of the needs, interests, challenges and potentials of Africa’s youth. Governments must formulate and implement policies that promote engagement, empowerment and investment in young people in Africa.

Contribution Of Youths To Space
In the space sector, despite a deliberate policy for youths, young people have made their mark in several ways:

a.) Public Outreaches: Young people engage in lots of sensitization programmes on space exploration. Abigail Harrison, known on social media and online as “Astronaut Abby,” in September 2015, joined with astronauts, space program workers and others to form The Mars Generation, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to getting people excited about space exploration. Harrison, joined by astronauts, space program workers, social media experts and others, launched The Mars Generation, organization devoted to raising recognition of, and a renewed investment in, space exploration.

The LEARNSPACE FOUNDATION I co-founded with other young Nigerians is geared towards space Sensitization and awareness.

b.) Entrepreneurship startups in the space industry/Space Research in Universities: Several African youths are engaged in space research in Universities and run startup which invent several space infrastructure like cube sats.

c.) Organising conferences on space and making contributions through platforms like SGAC.

Scientists have begun to reach to younger generations for new ideas. It’s not because they’re out of anything good, but it’s because they know that these young minds will be the ones to take over when they are gone.

Furthermore, this generation is growing up in an age of technology and understand how to solve problems in ways that could never have been imagined 60 years ago.

In September 2005, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”) launched a campaign seeking creative new ideas for space exploration technology from young people. The government agency sought input into the development of a new system for landing heavy payloads safely on the surface of Mars.

 The NASA press release also solicited imaginative yet reality-based ideas for generating lift using expandable spacecraft heat shields or very fast inflatable airborne systems for decelerating and landing heavily laden payloads on the Martian surface. The new so-called “HIAD” technology uses an acronym to describe the concept of a “hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator.” NASA hoped that some bright young college students or graduate students will volunteer ideas to the agency enabling NASA to develop new technology in this field to assist with the exploration of Mars.

 The European Space Exploration Programme Aurora has also been making great tracks on the path to space. The objective of the Aurora Programme was to implement a plan for human and robotic exploration of the solar system. The European Space Agency also sponsors two students from ESA Member and Cooperating States to attend a space camp at Andøya Rocket Range in Norway. Guests have the chance to participate in building full-fledged sounding rockets and hearing from some of Europe’s top researchers and scientists.

 Among NASA and ESA other programs like STARBASE (Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration), Radford University’s Summer Bridge, the Challenger Learning Center and other universities have programs set up to unite and expand the minds of the younger generation. With centers around the world, Challenger Learning Center is bringing more light to STEM education. They focus on “bringing all students dynamic educational experiences to help inspire future generations of STEM-conscious leaders.”

 The hope with these programs and opportunities is to foster a desire in young minds to study space and find what older generations could not access.



To promote overarching policy direction that taps into the huge development potential readily presented by African youth therefore, the following actions are proposed. Africa must:

• Implement policies that account for diversity and demographic changes in the youth population.
• Promote investments that absorb the capacities of youth in a variety of sectors, including education, health, employment, governance and civic engagement.
• Strengthen the evidence base for more effective youth policy development. The situation analysis seeks to foster an understanding of and actions on youth issues.

The above can be achieved by:
1.) Investment in youth STEM education at an early age: It is imperative thay space science education and other STEM related fields are massively promoted in Africa’s academic curriculum across all levels of learning.

One of the major challenges of STEM education in the continent currently is learning without application. Sadly, lack of adequate educational resources makes science education in Africa to be hugely based on an alternative to practical.

2.) Creating space awareness and communicating the availability of opportunities in the space industry: The African Regional Centre for space science and technology has a mandate to develop skills and knowledge in basic science and atmospheric science technology. However, lack of awareness of its programs has created a knowledge gap for so many.

3.) Investment in their physical and mental health
4.) Investment in matters of their employment: Ensuring they have jobs
5.) Political inclusion: (progressive, substantive inclusion of young people in political and decision-making processes at local, national, regional and international levels),
6.) Protection of their rights and civic engagement, and
7.) Supporting them for entrepreneurship and information technologies to empower them to express their choices more effectively and demand action.

A few years ago, Dittmar Associates in the USA carried out 2 surveys which looked at U.S. public attitudes towards space, the most recent study focusing specifically on the young American demographic segment, those 18-24 years old . The findings should serve as a real wake-up call for the space community as it revealed a huge gap between what NASA is doing and what the young generation know and they are not interested; which means, once these guys become decision makers, they may just cut off NASA”S budget as they do not see the relevance! The development of the American space industry will therefore not be sustained. Among this age group:
• 45 percent were unaware that the United States is embarked on a new program to return to the Moon and go on to Mars with humans as well as robots.
• Support for lunar exploration was slim, with more than two-thirds neutral at best and uninterested at worst.
• Opposition to human missions to Mars was strong with three in four actually opposed.
It would appear that space exploration tends not to be relevant to youth today. This same apathy for space investment and research is sadly and moreso replicated in majority of Africa’s youth.

More important issues are jobs, relationships, money and war and some young people stated that they “don’t know why we’re going there when we’re so screwed up here.”

Furthermore, the level of knowledge and interest in the space program in general among this age group is low and often misinformed: 27 percent expressed some doubt that the United States ever landed men on the Moon, and 39 percent felt that nothing useful has ever come out of NASA.

Among members of the Apollo generation, there is a positive presumption that NASA’s space program delivers technical and societal benefits, even when specific examples of these benefits could not be cited. The majority considers NASA relevant to their everyday lives, and this degree of perceived relevance correlates with a willingness to support increases in NASA funding — even though most had no idea about the actual size of NASA’s budget. In public relations parlance, the NASA brand is strong with this age group.

Contrast this, however, with the reaction of the younger age group where a full 72 percent think NASA money would be better spent elsewhere. This disaffection of youth is the real long-term sustainability problem for space exploration. These young people will be the taxpayers, voters, policy makers and elected officials 10, 20, 30 years from now. They will be running their nations and they will be the ones deciding whether to continue the space exploration program we are embarking on today.

Space must be relevant to the interests and needs of the public. At several workshops, the young students and professionals emphasize a major point of difference between veterans and today’s youth: the latter do not take in information passively but rather demand a two-way street of communication. As one said, “If you can’t interact with it, it’s just noise.”

In a space context, they want to feel that they are part of the missions themselves. The younger group further emphasize that public engagement needs to be made a Level One requirement for exploration. In line with this concept, these younger participants came up with numerous ideas for “quick hits” to get space out there where young people would not necessarily be looking for it, but where it would find them and start to interest them.

Here are just a few of these suggestions:

• Create champions who have the ability to communicate with openness, transparency and passion so as to generate excitement.
• Use non-traditional mass media to promote space exploration, such as reality television, sports shows, and magazines and movies aimed at young audiences.
• Use viral marketing opportunities in the new media. Develop podcasts, ringtones, personal Web pages and videos that are interesting enough to be distributed by young people to other young people.
• Put space in front of the young with guerilla marketing. Develop space video games and large community events, for example public screenings of shuttle launches.
• For young children, collaborate with toy manufacturers to develop space-related must-have toys.
• Offer zero-gravity flights or similar space-related prizes to winners of non-space-related contests like spelling bees, geography bees and the Little League World Series.
• Continue to promote proven interactive activities such as NASA student satellite-building competitions, science fiction and other writing contests, and public naming of missions.

The above can also be applied to Africa’s youth. Issues of space should be discussed in ways that resonate with them if we want to get them interested in the industry.

It will appear that while women want more women and equality in the sector, the youths simply want policies that will resonate with their interests and ideals. Let the sensitivities of each demographic be handled accordingly and not jumbled together.


On the need to establish agendas that are relevant to Africa’s development and growth, the following should be taken into consideration:
• The primary objectives of the African space Agency as provided by its creating statute.
• The guidelines and strategies explicitly provided by the African space policy.
• The use of space for sustainable development: under Agenda 2030 of the united Nations, particularly goal 9 that is centered on building resilient infrastructures, promoting sustainable industrialization and foster innovation as this will be crucial to achieving impactful change in developing countries of the world which many African countries fall under.
• The African Union agenda of 2063 of the ‘Africa we want,’ has deep roots in pan Africanism and this will influence a unified agenda for the benefit of all Africans and aid wide spread representation in the determination process and ensure even development throughout the continent.
• Moreso an agenda that will serve as a catalyst for growth of Africa’s economy is the development of the space sector. To achieve this, there must be a conscious strategy to elect credible and competent leaders that are genuinely interested in space technology and who are willing to expend and invest their country’s resources in space research and utilization outer space related benefits like satellite launching that is now employed. There must also be a conscious effort to train women and youth and integrate them into the continent’s space program. This cannot be over emphasized.

The development of Africa’s space science and technology sector is very relevant to Africa’s development and growth. This is because space science and technology is an important tool for ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources and the creation of high-technology industrial sectors.

New applications for space science and technology are constantly being discovered, and spin-offs from space technologies have led to advancements in such diverse fields as medicine, materials science and computers. Exploiting these applications and technological advancements for Africa’s social and economic development would bring many benefits.

Some of the ways space would benefit Africa and its people are:
 Space applications are effective tools for monitoring and conducting assessments of the environment, managing the use of natural resources, providing early warnings of and managing natural disasters,
 Space applications provide education and health services in rural and remote areas, and connects Africa with people around the world
 Space applications are also heavily employed in transportation services, which is another essential component of sustainable development in Africa. Access to transportation allows mobility, promotes commerce, and fosters education and health. In many African countries, transport access rates and network quality are low .
 Space-related applications are widely used in agriculture, which remains an important economic sector in much of Africa.
 Space-based information systems play a significant role in risk reduction and disaster management on the African continent, which is heavily affected by natural and man-made disasters.
 Space applications are also used for security to fight insurgents. E.g Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The use of space for development presents many opportunities that Africa cannot afford to ignore. The benefits of space science and technology need to be made available to all African countries, and there is a growing need for Africa to adopt a policy framework that guides the implementation of a continental space programme to enable the continent to develop and exploit its space resources in a more coordinated and systematic manner, with the overarching objective of contributing to Africa’s socio-economic development. This policy framework must make provision for the place of women and youth in the development of the African space sector.

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