Africa’s first woman in space has called for regional and global efforts to enable more Africans to participate in space exploration as part of efforts to advance the continent’s socioeconomic transformation.
Sara Sabry, a young Egyptian astronaut, and founder of the Deep Space Initiative made the call on Tuesday 4 July during a panel at the Africa50 Infra Forum and General Shareholders Meeting held in Togo’s capital Lomé. Panelists discussed “A Different View: Africa’s future reimagined.”
“I don’t think space should be such an exclusive club. To be the first at something is to kick down the door for others to follow,” Sabry said. “It is important for Africa to have a seat at the table and be involved in space exploration. The demographic in space must reflect that of people on Earth.”
Sabry made history when she traveled to space on the New Shepard rocket developed by Blue Origin, an American aerospace company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Speaking during the TED-style event, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group described Sabry as an inspiration.
“As a young African scientist, you give hope that young people can be in space despite the odds. It is often said that women can do what men can do, but I can say that women can do better than men, ” Adesina said.
Sabry stressed that Africans should pursue space travel. “It is important for Africa to build its capacity in space technology and gain its own control,” she said. Experts believe that satellite technology can have a significant impact on rapidly developing African countries by advancing weather forecasting, agriculture, navigation, and even banking and online education.
Sabry also called for a review of laws that restrict people from participating in space exploration.
Sabry’s non-profit, the Deep Space Initiative, works to make space exploration more accessible to more people globally.
Dr. Victor Oladokun, Senior Advisor to the President of the African Development Bank on Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, moderated the session. He described Sara as an embodiment of the hope and aspirations of many.