A Satellite-Based Augmentation System for Africa: achievements and opportunities ahead
17 January 2023
The European Union and the African Union, as well as their respective Member States, have joined efforts in multiple areas of cooperation thanks to the many available frameworks emerged in the last two decades -- and space is no exception.
A major example of space cooperation between the EU and the African Union is the GMES and Africa Programme. Within the framework of the Programme, the European Union partners with the African Union to provide reliable Earth Observation data through Copernicus. But the European Union is also ensuring that the African continent and its citizens can reap the benefits of Europe’s know-how on Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services.
Behind such acronyms and the technically challenging terms lies a series of beneficial applications for the aviation industry and its users, as well as small businesses, government agencies and the African communities as a whole.
A SBAS is composed of geostationary satellites and ground-stations distributed across a large and delimited geographic area. The interaction between space and ground-based infrastructure generates corrections of GPS/Galileo positioning data, delivering more accurate information to the end-users, as for instance the pilot of an airplane.
In 2020, the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) inaugurated the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean”, the first early SBAS open service in the African continent. The European Union played an important role in its development through programmatic support and advice and the technical expertise acquired through EGNOS, Europe’s own SBAS. According to the latest service provision yearly report (March 2022), EGNOS is operational in 430 airports across 34 countries, reaching a total of 821 operations. Due to Africa’s territorial extension, a developed SBAS would facilitate connections to remote areas and support regional integration.
Indeed, aviation is one of the sectors that most benefit from signal augmentation systems. Airline pilots and traffic control authorities use SBAS’ corrections to achieve more efficient and precise landing procedures and route optimisations, making the overall air transportation sector safer and more sustainable.
By broadcasting the SBAS signal over the African & Indian Ocean (AFI) region in 2020, the partners have only laid the first stone. Indeed, over the last two years African and European stakeholders have been working together to further develop a SBAS system for Africa with the objective to improve its functionality, increase the number of services provided and extend the coverage area.
The EU Global Action on Space is proud to be joining this effort by participating in the 2nd outreach event for SBAS adoption in aviation in Africa that will take place on the 2nd and 3rd February 2023 in Abuja, Nigeria. The event is aimed at reinforcing the coordination of the stakeholders involved and accelerating the penetration of SBAS services in Africa.
The role of the EU Global Action on Space in this process is to facilitate the dialogue between the European space industry and African stakeholders and to promote the wide range of downstream solutions that a fully functional SBAS can bring to the African stakeholders, building on our experience with EGNOS.
EU-Africa cooperation in space holds immense potential only waiting to be unleashed. On the occasion of the Global Action event “Current and future opportunities for EU-Africa cooperation in the Space domain” which took place in 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa, countless cross-sectoral solutions that Copernicus, EGNOS and Galileo were outlined as well as the new satellite-based secure connectivity EU Space Programme component.
→ Register here for the 2nd outreach event for SBAS adoption in aviation in Africa
→ Stay tuned for more events and matchmaking/pitching opportunities dedicated to Africa in 2023.
→ A detailed account on the potential space business opportunities in Africa by country can be consulted in our global market report.