Bringing the benefits of space technologies to Africa
The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is held every year by the International Astronautical Federation, together with the International Academy of Astronautics and the International Institute of Space Law. It is being held in Africa for the very first time this year, in Cape Town, on 4 October 2011.
This annual meeting gathers over 5,000 actors in the discipline of space including senior executives of the world's space agencies, academics, researchers, industry and commerce executives, students and young professionals. It includes plenary sessions, lectures and meetings and a concurrent exhibition.
UNESCO, jointly with its space partner, the University of Cape Town, will be showcasing its Space for Heritage activities during the event, with a major emphasis on Africa. Examples include monitoring World Heritage sites in Madagascar, assisting heritage sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and documenting the African heritage monuments through the African Heritage database, among others.
South Africa is an emerging nation in the area of space. With the adoption of a new space policy and the establishment of the new South African National Space Agency, the country is now well on its way towards having a domestic civil space programme. One main focus is capacity building for Africa, and aera in which UNESCO could get involved; a potential partnership for South African space activities is under discussion.