This week Jeff Bezos will take Blue Origin to the edge of space. Bezos, the founder of Amazon who is colloquially referred to as the most efficient allocator of capital alive todaySpace is $1 Trillion market opportunity according to Bloomberg. Just the other day, Richard Branson took his Virgin Galactic to the edge of space.

Since then investment firms have ferociously gone after the space market as an investment opportunity. China, the UK & the USA are the head of the race with, Russia & Australasia following. Nothing yet from African countries. And to my knowledge, neither from South American countries.

Some will read this post & ask why should Africa focus on Space as an area of science when we have basic & more pressing issues.

That question, while valid demonstrates the very issue that Africa (forgive me for referring to Africa as a single block) faces, can you forget your future because your problems today are so pressing?

The quest for dominating space is far deeper than a billionaire’s vanity project. The race for commercial space flight domination is to change the economic (especially unit economics) of the following:

1. Connectivity
The idea is that making the placement of satellites in space more commercially viable will change the pathway of access & cost for the internet. With Africa lagging behind many developed economies in cost-to-connectivity (and given how fundamental the internet has been in civil rights, education, and access to financial services) shouldn’t Africa have a “space playbook”?

2. Climate Change
Monitoring trends affecting climate change will be significantly enhanced from the vantage point of space.

3. Agriculture & Food Security
The ability to monitor climate trends will have a direct impact on the yields of agriculture-producing countries. This — it goes without saying — in a world that is expected to soon be home to more than 10 billion people will change the face of food security.

The history of Africa is littered with Africa as the recipient (and seldom the initiator) of technologies that fundamentally impact our lives. From breakthroughs in energy production, pharmaceuticals, tools of modern warfare, mobile connectivity, or even the proliferation of financial markets, Africa is seldom at the leading edge.

My sense is that this new race for space may spell another 100years of Africa at the begging bowl of the world.

And the question we must ask ourselves is this, “are we happy to lead our children to such a fate”.

Vusi Thembekwayo
Speaker | Investor | Leader