An Assessment of African Economic Stakeholders Who Could Benefit from an East African Spaceport



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An Assessment of African Economic Stakeholders Who Could Benefit from an East African Spaceport


Kevin Dillon

NSBE Space SIG

kevin.dillon1914@yahoo.com


Gael Gatera

NSBE Space SIG

rgateragael@gmail.com


Enanga Fale

NSBE Space SIG



enanga.fale@gmail.com


Abstract - This paper is a preliminary research investigation in support of the National Society of Black Engineers East Africa Spaceport Feasibility Study. The primary focus of this paper is to compile an assessment of current African economic stakeholders that may benefit from such a spaceport. It identifies African natural resources or industries with markets related to space activity or companies directly engaged in the development of space-related hardware, software, or other products. Also discussed are African governments with existing space programs, aspirations for future programs, or declared interests in one or more space enterprises. Further, African grass-roots space activity is identified, including entrepreneurial ventures, university research, and independent or nonprofit activity. It also describes potential new African economic stakeholders necessary to increase the value of an East African spaceport. This includes an assessment of future African launch vehicle providers and evaluation of transportation architectures between sites of manufacture and potential East African launch sites. It also proposes cost-saving transportation architectures between non-African launch vehicle providers and potential East African launch sites. Finally, it identifies potential African partners in human spaceflight, including potential African international partners, space tourism markets, and opportunities for virtual involvement or engagement of non-flying African citizens.

Keywords: Africa, spaceport, launch facility, rocket.

1Introduction


A spaceport is a site with facilities for launching spacecraft to orbits around the Earth or to interplanetary trajectories. As satellite launches and space related research/technology advances, the Sub-Saharan Africa will need a spaceport. The concept of the East African Community (EAC) Spaceport nicknamed “Uhuru,” a Swahili word that means “freedom,” was first suggested during the 2012 NSBE Aerospace Systems Conference in Los Angeles. The NSBE Space SIG partnered with Futron Corporation, Phezu Space LLC, and Isibizo Phezu Space (Pty) Ltd South Africa, and performed a preliminary study of this concept. [1] The preliminary study highlighted the following: geo-physical advantages and possible sites for spaceport, science and technology advancement, economic benefits, space market competitiveness, South African spaceport collaboration, and public safety and asset protection. [1] Several operational conveniences exist with building an equatorially located spaceport in East Africa. Rocket launch physics indicate that an equatorial launch to Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), Low Earth Orbit (LEO), or interplanetary trajectories uses less fuel than a launch from other latitudes for the same payload mass. [1] The ability to either launch larger payloads or manifest more payloads for the same cost is an attractive option to space industry businesses. Alternatively, the ability to launch the same payload at a reduced cost versus launching then from other latitudes is equally attractive. [1]

The aim of this research and publication phase of the East African Spaceport Feasibility Study is to target those in the aerospace community with an emphasis in space exploration and advancement to provide tangible evidence for the viability of the construction, operation, and sustainment of a spaceport in the East Africa Community. The tangible evidence will be provided through the identification of relevant natural resources and industries provided by each country within the East African Community; companies directly engaged in the development of space-related hardware, software, or other products; governments with existing space programs, aspirations for future programs, or declared interests in one or more space enterprises; and universities, vocational opportunities, non-profit organizations, and other grass-roots activity that are in support of establishing a thriving space industry in the East Africa Community.


2Current East African Economic Stakeholders

2.1East African Nations

2.1.1Burundi


“The Republic of Burundi” is a landlocked country bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The capital of Burundi is Bujumbura and is the socio-economic center of the country. Burundi has a total area of 27,834 km2 or 10,747 square miles [2] with a total estimated population of 11,179,000 people as of 2015. [3] This country has two official languages, Kirundi and French, the latter spoken mainly by those who went to school. There exist three ethnic groups in this country, Twas, Tutsis and Hutus.

2.1.1.1Natural Resources


According to the CIA World Fact Book, nickel, uranium, rare earth oxides, peat, cobalt, copper, platinum, vanadium, arable land, hydropower, niobium, tantalum, gold, tin, tungsten, kaolin, and limestone are Burundi’s major natural resources. [4] Because Burundi’s manufacturing sector is underdeveloped, these natural resources are difficult to cultivate with the efforts of Burundi alone.

2.1.1.2Industries


Burundi’s economic foundation focuses on light consumer goods, assembly of imported components; public works construction, and food processing. The CIA World Fact Book states that Burundi’s primary exports are coffee and tea. These account for 90% of the foreign exchange earnings which is only a small share of its GDP. [4] This economic foundation amounts to 18.1% of the country’s GDP. [4] Burundi’s economy suffers from political turmoil over controversial elections.

2.1.1.3Political Background


Germany was the first European country to establish a colony in this region of Africa. Belgium conquered the territory during the First World War and was mandated control over what is now known as Rwanda and Burundi, at the time called Ruanda-Urundi. The colony was separated into the two aforementioned countries on July 1st 1962 and gained their independence.

The politics of this nation even in pre-colonial times has been shaped by which ethnic group is in control over the government, which has led to significant amounts of bloodshed. In 1972, a genocide was started by a Hutu uprising in which many Tutsis were killed, lead to a retaliation by the Tutsi controlled government to also kill as many Hutus as possible. An estimated 300,000 people died during the period from April to September 1972. [5]

A Civil war started in 1993 and lasted until 2005. This civil war was sparked by the assassination of then President Melchoir Ndadaye, who was Hutu, by Tutsi extremists. Attempts by the international community to create peace and a base for both ethnic groups to be represented in the government of Burundi occurred several times in the form of “The 1994 Convention of Government,” “2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement,” and the “2004 Burundi Power-Sharing agreement,” all which were violated by the government and rebel groups involved.

2.1.1.4Summary


In summation, poor power supplies, inadequate food and medical supplies, lacking infrastructures and roadways, and political instability all hinder Burundi’s economic growth. Overall, the country would benefit from having a space program to boost the economy. Clearly, public works construction would be a potential recipient of construction contracts to build the facility. The consumer goods and food processing industries would both see increased business to support the construction workers and would also have ongoing business opportunities to provide goods and services once the spaceport is operational.

Although the aforementioned natural resources would be essential in the development of a spaceport in Burundi, this country is currently a period of political instability due to the fact that the current President Pierre Nkurunziza is serving a controversial third term after changing the country’s constitution to extend his rule in a referendum. [6] Nkurunziza, former rebel leader, announced in April 2015 that he will prolong his presidency past the allocated two term limit and the country has been in turmoil ever since. This decision is a violation of the “2004 Burundi Power-Sharing Agreement.” Nkurunziza won the controversial elections either by intimidating or paying the citizens into agreeing to pass the referendum. Those opposing Nkurunziza have been slaughtered by the ruling party ever since. [6]

While Burundi may play an economic trade role in any spaceport, the nation is not a viable location for any key spaceport infrastructure due to the ongoing warfare and political instability. This instability would be a constant source of danger to both the spaceport facility and its customers.

2.1.2Rwanda


“The Republic of Rwanda” is a landlocked East African country bordering Uganda to the north, the Republic Democratic of the Congo to the west, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the South. The capital of Rwanda is Kigali and is the socio-economic center of the whole country. The total area of Rwanda is 26,338 square kilometers or 10,169 square miles [7] with an estimated population of 11,610,000 people as of 2015. [3] Three languages are spoken in Rwanda: Kinyarwanda, French and English, with only educated people speaking the last two mentioned. Just like Burundi, Rwanda has three ethnic groups, Tutsi, Hutus and Twas.

2.1.2.1Natural Resources


According to the CIA World Fact Book, small deposits of gold, tin ore, tungsten ore, methane, hydropower, and arable land make up Rwanda’s major natural resources. [8] Approximately 90% of the population is engaged in mineral and agro-processing despite their lack of adequate transportation and energy shortages. [8]

2.1.2.2Industries


Rwanda is focused on cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, and cigarettes. The majority of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture. Tourism, minerals, coffee, and teat are the main sources of foreign exchange. Rwanda’s main economic industries of focus account for 14.1% of the GDP while agriculture alone accounts for 32.6% of the GDP. [8] Rwanda struggles with food production not keeping pace with demand, leaving them to depend on imported food.

2.1.2.3Political Background


Rwanda was part of the territory colonized by Germany in East Africa. During the First World War, Belgium conquered Rwanda with along with neighboring country of Burundi and named this colony Ruanda-Urundi. In 1962, what would become the two countries gained their independence from Belgium.

The history of Rwanda is very similar and intertwined with the aforementioned Burundi in many respects. The early politics of this country was also shaped by ethnic tensions between the two dominating ethnic groups, the Tutsi and the Hutus.

Killings began in Rwanda sparked by the assassination of the President at the time, Juvenal Habyarimana, whose plane was shot down on April 6, 1994. Also in the same airplane and killed was Burundi’s President, Cyprien Ntaryamira. This sparked a three-month long genocide that claimed an estimated 1 million Hutus and Tutsi lives. A rebel group lead by current Rwandese President Paul Kagame took control of the Government and has been in power ever since. Kagame was officially sworn into office in 2000, with a transitional government put in place in between 1994 and 2000.

Rwanda’s next elections will be held in 2017, and the current President has declared intentions to run for a third term. The government made a referendum in December 2015, amending the constitution to allow Kagame to have a transitional 7 years of Presidency after 2017 and two more additional terms of 5 years each, which could potentially see him in power until 2034. [9] The upcoming elections will prove key to the future stability of Rwanda as there are allegations that accuse the current President and his party of war crimes, both during and after the 1994 Civil war. In 2015, General Karenzi Karake, head of Rwanda’s Intelligence service, was arrested in London because of an international warrant issued in Spain that indicted the former of war crimes, but he was released due to technicalities. [10]


2.1.2.4Summary


Rwanda as a whole could benefit from having a launchpad and a space program. Companies currently in Rwanda would receive building contracts which would boost the economy. All the industries currently in Rwanda would are able to sustain a functional spaceport.

However, current politics in Rwanda are very unfavorable. With the seven years of transition from the current constitution to the next happening in 2017, it is possible that the country could descend into chaos just like neighboring country Burundi. This would not be a safe environment for spaceport personnel, launch vehicle providers, or payload customers.


2.1.3Kenya


Kenya is named for Mount Kenya which loosely means “God’s resting place”. Kenya is located in East Africa bordering the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Tanzania.

2.1.3.1Natural Resources


According to the CIA World Fact Book, limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, oil, gas, gypsum, wildlife, and hydropower are the major natural resources. [11]

2.1.3.2Industries


Small scale consumer goods, agricultural products, oil refining, aluminum, steel, lead, tourism, and commercial ship repair are Kenya’s major industries. Based on data from the CIA World Fact Book, Kenya is the economic and transport hub for East Africa with agriculture serving as the backbone accounting for 25% of the GDP. [11] Inadequate infrastructure hinders Kenya from having significant economic growth in order to effectively address poverty and unemployment. [11]

2.1.3.3Political Background


Kenya gained its independence from the United Kingdom on December 12, 1963, and has three branches of government including the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch. However, due to corruption and weak governance, Kenya’s economic development trajectory is threatened, stifling the growth of its entrepreneurial middle class. [11]

2.1.3.4Summary


Because of Kenya’s geographical location, including the presence of a sea port near two candidate sites, and its title as the economic hub of the East African region, Kenya would benefit from having a spaceport. Additionally, many of the issues preventing Kenya from positive economic growth have the potential of being eliminated with the establishment of a working spaceport and on-going space activity. And unlike Rwanda or Burundi, the political climate in Kenya is stable, suggesting a sustainable environment for a spaceport. The primary risks to spaceport stability stem from weaknesses and corruption in Kenya’s government.

2.1.4Tanzania


Formerly a German colony from the 1880s through 1919, the post-World War 1 accords and the League of Nations charter designated the area a British Mandate (except for a small area in the northwest, which was ceded to Belgium and later became Rwanda and Burundi). Shortly after achieving independence from Britain in the early 1960s, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. [12] Tanzania is located in the Eastern African region, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique.

2.1.4.1Natural Resources


The major natural resources of Tanzania include hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas, and nickel. According to the CIA World Fact Book, Tanzania’s land is 47% used for agriculture and 37% covered by forest. [12] Current environmental issues include soil degradation, deforestation, and extermination of wildlife due to illegal hunting for trade and ivory.

2.1.4.2Industries


Agricultural processing, mining for diamonds, gold, and iron, salt, cement, oil refining, shoes, apparel, wood products, and fertilizer make up the major industries for Tanzania. [12] The economy depends on agriculture, which accounts for more than one-quarter of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs about 80% of the work force; agriculture accounts for 7% of government expenditures. All land in Tanzania is owned by the government, which can lease land for up to 99 years. [12] Proposed reforms to allow for land ownership, particularly foreign land ownership, remain unpopular.

2.1.4.3Political Background


Tanzania's president and National Assembly members are elected concurrently by direct popular vote for five-year terms. The president appoints a prime minister who serves as the government's leader in the National Assembly. The president selects his cabinet from among National Assembly members. The Constitution also empowers him to nominate ten non-elected members of Parliament, who also are eligible to become cabinet members. Tanzania also suffers from corruption within its government. In late 2014, a highly publicized scandal in the energy sector involving senior Tanzanian officials resulted in international donors freezing nearly $500 million in direct budget support to the government. The Tanzanian shilling weakened in 2015 because of lower gold prices, election-related political risk, and outflows from emerging market currencies generally. [12]

2.1.4.4Summary


Tanzania is one of the world's poorest economies in terms of per capita income, but has achieved high growth rates based on its vast natural resource wealth and tourism. The World Bank, the IMF, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's aging infrastructure, including rail and port, that provide important trade links for inland countries. In 2013, Tanzania completed the world's largest Millennium Challenge Compact grant, worth $698 million, and, in December 2014, the Millennium Challenge Corporation selected Tanzania for a second Compact. [12] Therefore, Tanzania would greatly benefit from a spaceport which would help grow their economy and improve the current infrastructure so that they no longer have to depend heavily on aid from other institutions. However, the evidence of government corruption does pose a potential risk to the spaceport’s economic stability, as illustrated by repercussions resulting from its energy sector scandal.

2.1.5Uganda


Uganda is also known as the Republic of Uganda. Uganda is from the Swahili word Buganda which was adopted by the British in 1894 as the name of their East African colony. [13] Uganda is located west of Kenya and east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

2.1.5.1Natural Resources


According to the CIA World Fact Book, the major natural resources of Uganda are copper, cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land, and gold. Even though Uganda is landlocked, it is very fertile and well-watered with many lakes and rivers. Arable land makes up 34% of the land used for agriculture. [13] Soil erosion, deforestation, and draining wetlands for agriculture are all environmental issues facing Uganda currently.

2.1.5.2Industries


Sugar, brewing, tobacco, cotton textiles, cement, and steel production are the major industries in Uganda. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing one third of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of exports revenues. [13] Uganda’s economy remains predominantly agricultural with a small industrial sector that is dependent on imported inputs like oil and equipment. Overall productivity is hampered by a number of supply-side constraints, including underinvestment in an agricultural sector that continues to rely on rudimentary technology. Industrial growth is impeded by high-costs due to poor infrastructure, low levels of private investment, and the depreciation of the Ugandan shilling.

2.1.5.3Political Background


The colonial boundaries created by Britain to delimit Uganda grouped together a wide range of ethnic groups with different political systems and cultures. These differences complicated the establishment of a working political community after independence was achieved in 1962. The dictatorial regime of Idi AMIN (1971-79) was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents; guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton OBOTE (1980-85) claimed at least another 100,000 lives. The rule of Yoweri MUSEVENI since 1986 has brought relative stability and economic growth to Uganda. A constitutional referendum in 2005 cancelled a 19-year ban on multi-party politics and lifted presidential term limits. [13]

2.1.5.4Summary


Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. Since 1986, the government, with the support of foreign countries and international agencies, has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages. The policy changes are especially aimed at dampening inflation while encouraging foreign investment to boost production and export earnings. Since 1990 economic reforms ushered in an era of solid economic growth based on continued investment in infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, lower inflation, better domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs. [13] With the addition of a spaceport, the economy of Uganda would continue to increase and enter an era where it can sustain itself.

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