China funds new satellite facility in Egypt, seeks more contracts in Africa

Africa's space industry is reportedly generating about $20 billion in annual revenue, and China is looking to establish key partnerships.
Chris Young
A Long March 2D rocket, like the one above, recently lifted Horus 2 to orbit.
A Long March 2D rocket, like the one above, recently lifted Horus 2 to orbit.


Egypt is looking to position itself as Africa's leading space power, and it's receiving help from China.

China delivered two prototypes for the MisrSat-2 satellite project to Egypt on June 25. The satellites will be assembled and tested at a center funded by China, at the Egyptian Space Agency.

China has provided the Egyptian Space Agency with a $74 million grant on top of $68 million in funds for the construction of the satellite assembly, integration, and test center, a report from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reveals.

China boosts Egypt's space industry

China's ambassador in Egypt, Liao Liqiang, said the African nation would become the first on the continent with the capacity to assemble, integrate, and test satellites.

"Egypt is the first country to which China [has] handed over [a] satellite cooperation project outside China, and the first country with which China [has] cooperated to complete [a] large-scale trial operation of [a] satellite outside China," Liao said at a ceremony to present the grant to the Egyptian government, according to SCMP.

Engineers from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation have joined forces with engineers in Egypt to conduct tests on three MisrSat-2 satellite models, two of which are prototypes and one a flight model.

That's not to say the satellites will launch from Egypt. Once completed, they will be shipped to China, where they will launch in October this year.

China also launched Horus-2, a remote-sensing Earth observation satellite, aboard a Long March-2D rocket in March this year. The satellite was developed as part of the ongoing collaboration between China and Egypt.

Africa's growing space industry

China is looking to expand its global collaboration network, having been shut out from working on the International Space Station in 2011 due to US national security concerns. Aside from agreements it has in place with Russia, China has also penned bilateral agreements with 14 African countries, including Egypt. These cover space technology, training, and ground infrastructure.

"Like other countries such as Russia, the US, and Europe, China is always exploring new business opportunities on the continent," Nigerian space scientist Temidayo Oniosun told SCMP in an interview. Africa's space industry is growing rapidly, generating roughly $20 billion in annual revenue, according to Oniosun.

Space industry contracts in Africa are "also a critical tool for international diplomacy, and this defines China’s long-term plan on the continent," Oniosun added.

At the grant ceremony, which took place last month, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Rania al-Mashat said: "The advanced devices and effective technology are important for Egypt as they open a gateway for cooperation with Africa in this field."

The Egyptian Space Agency was founded in January 2018. Earlier this year, Spain announced it was founding its space agency with a € 700 million (approx. $753 million) budget.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board