Speech delivered by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, MP, at the 62nd International Astronautical Federation Congress at the Cape Town International Convention Center
Programme Director
Minister Naledi Pandor
Deputy Minister Obed Bapela
Ministers coming from other countries
The President of the International Astronautical Federation Professor Berndt Feuerbacher
Chairperson of the Local Organising Committee and also chairperson of South African Space Council Dr Peter Martinez
Distinguished Participants in this 62nd International Astronautical Federation

Let me add my voice to those who have welcomed you all to South-Africa and also let me add my voice to all of those who have welcomed the fact that the International Astronautical Federation chose South-Africa as the destination for this particular conference.

We believe that the decision you took to bring the 62nd Congress to the African Continent is a reflection of a very important reality that space exploration and the exploitation of Space Based Technologies has become and is becoming increasingly multi lecturised.

As the world Economy begins to change in very important ways Africa is emerging as one of the major new poles of Global Growth with seven of the ten fastest growing economies actually located on the African continent. And it is therefore no accident that a growing number of African countries are becoming involved in space related activities in the development of their own programmes and the increasing sophisticated scale of operations in this particular arena.

Also as the parliamentary events that is linked to this conference identified yesterday, there are a number of developmental problems on the African Continent that can benefit from the Application of Space Based Technologies. These include, challenges in the areas of food security, in energy in water resources as well as the more easily recognised areas of telecommunications and also navigation.

South Africa certainly is no newcomer to space activities, a short distance from this particular venue is a suburb called Observatory, where the first Astronomical Observatory was established in 1820 and it celebrated accordingly its 175th anniversary in 1995. But as the video at the beginning of this event told us man needed the stars for navigation purposes dates back much further and was an activity engaged by both our indigenous population as well as by navigators that reached our shores and further afield.

With the dawn of the of the modern Space Age South Africa became the sight of an important NASA Ground Based Tracking Station at Hartebeeshoek near Johannesburg and among other things this station was the first to receive images of the planet Mars which were transmitted from America for a space craft in 1965.

More recently as my colleague Minister Pandor indicated we have been focussing on the development of micro Satellites as well as with the developments of ground based interstellar observation through projects which have placed us in the position where we are one of the two finalists for the location of the square kilometre array (SKA).

I would like to invite all of you to visit our National Pavilion which will demonstrate some of the capacities which we have in South Africa in this particular area.

Our National Pavilion under the Aerospace Industry support initiative brand is located in stands 46 to 53 and I also invite you to visit stand 55 where some 20 South African aerospace companies and institutions will exhibit their technological engineering and manufacturing capabilities.

In this regard it is also significant that the congress will provide African Industry in general with an opportunity to showcase its own capabilities .And an opportunity for the global space community to find out about space activities which are located on our continent and the possibilities for partnerships which exists among us.

As it’s already been mentioned, in 2008 we adopted the South African Space Policy and the South African Space Affairs Act whose implementation falls under the South African Council for Space Affairs. In addition as it’s already been mentioned through the South African Space Agency located in the Department of Science and Technology we pursue research in development of activities related to space technologies.

Our policy is based on the peaceful uses of space to promote socio-economic development, to promote peace, stability and human and environmental security. Our policy emphasises also international co-operation, and in this it means that South Africa actively seeks to strengthen partnerships in space technologies and applications with a number of international partners.

We have begun number of discussions in this regard and we are close to reaching a comprehensive specific agreement with India on co-operation and the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Furthermore, we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of participating actively in international space organisations and in the international space arena. We are active members of this particular body the International Astronautical Federation (IAF)

Part of our role in this regard has been that we have ratified the important international agreements such as recently the 1972 Convention on the Registration of Space Objects and the 1975 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects. Our ratification of these important conventions was followed by the practical step of implementing the registration of these particular objects and we launched this in July of this year.

Ladies And gentlemen, I will encourage all participants in this conference to network, to interact and to form new partnership and relationships whilst also strengthening existing ones. In particular we see this event as an opportunity to stimulate greater awareness about the capacities of the African continent as well as greater co-operation between African countries in the area of space.

I hope also that you will have an opportunity as previous speakers have said to   enjoy something about our country and to experience something of this particular region of Cape Town. I think you will come away finding that we are a very beautiful part of the world and something which is better seen on the ground than space images.

Thank very much.

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