ATC160318: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on the 6th International Meeting for Parliamentarians as part of the 66th International Astronautical Congress held in Jerusalem, Israel, 11-16 October 2015, dated 16 March 2016

Trade, Industry and Competition

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on the 6th International Meeting for Parliamentarians as part of the 66th International Astronautical Congress held in Jerusalem, Israel, 11-16 October 2015, dated 16 March 2016

The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, having attended the 6th International Meeting for Parliamentarians as part of the 66th International Astronautical Congress held in Jerusalem, Israel, held on 11-16 October 2015, reports as follows:


  1. Background


Space exploration, research and development, and technologies offer humanity the possibilities of harnessing the benefits to boost our planning and development in agriculture, infrastructure, urban architecture, health and communication. Effectively, it underpins our commitment to enhance life on planet earth for the benefit of all humanity.


The high cost of space research and development, as well as the execution of space-related projects has generated the need for international co-operation and collaboration, which promotes research and development and encourages broader understanding of the challenges and progress taking place in countries. This Congress also recognized the imperative of strategic skills development and technology transfer as well the value of sharing diverse experiences and space-generated information.


The assimilation of that would ensure a new generation would further our understanding and tolerance between people and nations and ensure space technology and information was used for developmental and peaceful purposes. Space research and development enhances the thrust of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) to contribute to the implementation of the priorities of the 2015 Nine-Point Plan to boost inclusive economic growth and job creation. These areas include water and environmental management, and infrastructure planning and management and industrial development.


In 2009, the Minister of Trade and Industry launched South Africa’s National Space Policy, which sets out various objectives to develop the national space arena to support sustainable development, industrial development, human capital development and international cooperation in space activities. The primary South African legislative instrument governing the regulation of both governmental and non-governmental space-related activities is the Space Affairs Act (No. 84 of 1993). The Act establishes the South African Council for Space Affairs under the authority of the Minister of Trade and Industry to implement its regulatory, monitoring and registration functions. In addition, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has been established under the Department of Science and Technology to implement the National Space Strategy.


South Africa has been identified as an emerging space nation and has attracted much interest in the international space arena. Projects, such as SALT (Southern African Large Telescope), MeerKAT and SKA (Square Kilometre Array), further enhance South Africa’s reputation in the field of space science and technology. This further confirms the need for South Africa’s participation and exposure on international space matters and the uses thereof. The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) has been hosting an annual International Astronautical Congress and had introduced a meeting for parliamentarians in 2009. The Congresses deal with the potential of current and future space technologies to deal with key topics of major and global interest, while the meetings for parliamentarians are a platform for parliamentarians to be informed of the developments in space technologies and the relevance of these to their constituencies, as well as to share their country’s experiences.


The theme and focus of the 6th Meeting of Parliamentarians was ``Water management supported by space tools – Policy development, implementation and verification’’, while the theme for the 66th International Astronautical Congress was “Space – The Gateway for Mankind’s Future”.




  1. Delegation 


The delegation consisted of the Chairperson, Ms J Fubbs (African National Congress), and Adv A Alberts (Freedom Front Plus). They were supported by the Committee Secretary, Mr Tenda Madima.


  1. Other events attended


While in Jerusalem, the delegation met with the South African Ambassador in Israel, Ambassador S Ngomane, and also attended a number of other events, namely:


  • The Watec (Water Technology and Environment Control) conference
  • Hutchison Water
  • Energia, Jerusalem
  • Yissum Technology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Van Leer Incubator


The purpose of the visit was to assess the nature of the impact of water technologies in relation to energy and space, given that South Africa is experiencing a number of challenges on energy and water.


  1. Courtesy call to the South African Ambassador in Israel, Ambassador S Ngomane


The delegation met with the Ambassador of South Africa in Israel. The Ambassador raised some concerns regarding the tumult in the country that could affect the delegation’s safety. The delegation noted his concerns and the trip was incident free.





  1. 6th International Meeting for Members of Parliament, Knesset


The meeting was held in the Knesset (Parliament of Israel) on 11 October 2015. The President of the IAF, Mr Kiyoshi Higuchi, welcomed the Members of Parliaments. He alluded to the fact that water management through space technologies, the theme of that meeting, is a way of addressing some of the existing global challenges. Furthermore, he acknowledged the growing number of countries involved in the space arena and welcomed the organizations which have an interest in this arena. He indicated that the 2015 Congress had attracted at least 22 000 participants, who are interested in the future of space co-operation. He also announced that the 2016 Congress would be hosted by Mexico.


The Israeli Minister of Science and Technology, Mr M K Ofir Akunis, welcomed Members of Parliament to the Knesset. Israel was building and launching a satellite and therefore would need the co-operation of other countries.


Mr Alejandro Tello Cristerna, the President of the Commission of Science and Technology, Mexican Parliament, highlighted the following:


  • Floods and droughts are some of the water-related global challenges being faced.
  • The need to implement reliable tools to deal with water-related problems.
  • Water management utilising space tools, such as satellites and their imagery and sensory equipment.
  • The need to initiate and implement relevant legislation on water resource management and the role of space tools.


Mr Karlheinz Kreuzberg, Head of the Director General’s Cabinet, European Space Agency (ESA), reflected on the journey of the space agencies and government. He highlighted the following:


  1. Freedom and Flexibility in dealing with space-related matters between countries and other role-players is essential.
  2. Global challenges: There is a need to provide global solutions and to develop the right tools to do so.
  3. Policy implementation: The right tools and policies must be implemented. Members must understand the mandate and the potential benefits of using space tools.
  4. General expectations: There was a need for a feedback mechanism between countries and role-players and a process of dialogue throughout.


The following key topics were raised during the general discussions:


  • Space is to support the management of natural resources.
  • Issues of climate change need to be taken into consideration.
  • Issues of monitoring forest resources.
  • Wind farms and the impact on the environment.
  • Sharing of resources between countries.
  • Earth observation.
  • Challenges of countries that have not joined yet in the space world.
  • Value addition in the space industry.
  • Calls for proposals.
  • Issue of international collaboration.
  • The work of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
  • Patent process.
  • The nature of South Africa in relation to water and space and in relation to access to fresh water. The process of reducing poverty in line with infrastructure, innovation, investment, industrialization, inclusivity and education.
  • The use of space for data capturing.
  • Co-operation between Parliaments.
  • Contemporary use of technology.


  1. 66th International Astronautical Congress, Jerusalem International Convention Centre (12-16 October 2015)


The delegation attended the opening ceremony on 12 October 2015 and attended various technical sessions of the Congress, notably the following:


  1. Space Education


Mr Christopher Vasko advised that the Space Generation Advisory Council is in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.


He highlighted the following:


  • The knowledge of space biology, space research and engineering should be disseminated from the pre-school level to tertiary level.
  • Collection of data and information from satellites and how the Russian space industry plays a role in the world of astronomy and technology is of importance.
  • In the past, projects and research on astronomy for Soviet school children who engaged in seminars and workshops when dealing with the world’s largest telescope used to be a common feature. The Department of Astronomy within the Space Generation Congress (SGC) deals with concepts that seek to educate people on space such as comets and Earth. Books on the above topics were written and translated into various languages. Most of these books deal with classical observations on earth.  The SGC aims to strengthen the international network of the space Generation Advisory Council; examines and considers key questions that are facing the space and international community at large and to provide input to international thinking from the next generation space professionals; and to allow tomorrow’s space sector leaders to grow their network within their generation.
  • The Rosetta Mission is a NASA-funded project which was launched in 2006. The mission involves studying comets within close proximity. Space teaching is essential because learners have the desire to learn, particularly when they are encouraged by their parents from an early age between (9-11 years). In this case, a paper model can be utilised, in order for the young space enthusiasts to grasp the knowledge.
  •  The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (Jaxa) Space Education Centre is one area in which formal education support on space can be sourced.
  • School-wide space advocacy justifications in relation to Science, Technology, Engineering Arts, and Mathematics (STEM). STEM is introduced as a subject (one of the learning areas), and there is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the teachers since the schools are branded with space programmes as well. In terms of the premises, it is a research-based programme, and schools are enjoying it as a school programme. The programme is not that expensive and can be completed within three years.


  1. The Young Space Leader Award


One of the most interesting outcomes of the Congress related to the importance of youth participation, especially for South Africa. One of the sessions focused on the Young Space Leaders (YSL) Recognition Programme, which acknowledges exceptional individuals under the age of 35 who demonstrate leadership by contributing to astronautics through their academic and professional activities, reaching out to other young people and to their community to share knowledge and experience, engaging colleagues in the international space community, and contributing to the work of IAF committees.


One of the South African representatives at the IAC, Adv Lulu Makapela, who is a project manager at the CSIR, was one of the recipients of the Young Space Leaders Award of the IAF on 16 October 2015.


She received the award in recognition of her contribution in a number of activities to reach out to young people on the African continent and internationally. She is the co-chair for the African Leadership on Space Science and Technology Youth Forum, the African regional organizer for the International Institute of Space Law’s space law moot court competition, a Member of the Space Generation Advisory Council, formerly a Member of the South African Council for Space Affairs, and an organizer of the IAF youth plenary.


  1. Attendance at other events and meetings


  1. The Watec (Water Technology and Environment Control) Conference (13 /10/ 2015)


Water is an essential natural resource that is necessary to ensure human and ecosystem health, as well as quality of life. According to the South African National Space Agency’s 2014/15 Annual Report, South Africa is classified as a “semi-arid and water stressed country, with an average rainfall of about 450 mm’’.


This is well below the world average of approximately 860 mm per annum. This rainfall is unevenly distributed across the country and is seasonal with 43 per cent of the rain falling on 13 per cent of the land. In addition, there is relatively low stream flow in rivers, which limits the proportion of flowing water and inhibits consistent water use.


Given that South Africa is experiencing critical water shortages and that the WATEC Conference took place at the same time as the IAC, delegates took the opportunity to attend this conference in Tel Aviv, as it added value to the supporting role played by space in water management.


The conference covered a number of issues such as water efficiency, water resource management, water treatment, water use and dealing with water challenges in general.


Israel has a vast knowledge on handling challenges of water, and it can offer advice and expertise to water scarce countries in this regard. This is because even the former leaders, such as Mr Shimon Peres, confirmed that the vision on managing the water shortages in Israel was centred on ensuring that the people had to share and help each other in order to build a better future. This can now be expanded to regional cooperation in ensuring partnerships outside of Israel on water management is created.


The following issues were highlighted:


  • Agricultural and domestic use of water.
  • Water utilization equipment and related services.
  • Water rights negotiations.
  • Capital equipment (construction and related infrastructure).
  • Environmental equipment and related services.
  • Areas in which closer collaboration could be fostered with institutions and countries, which are more advanced in the fields dealing with water.
  • Harmonization of standards on issues relating to water tariffs, sanitation and agriculture.
  • Increasing maritime connectivity and desalination.
  • Maintenance of reservoirs.
  • Water storage (conservation) and storm water management.
  • Desalination technology.
  • Climate change and drought in relation to the population size of each country.
  • Waste water treatment and recycling, as well as the management of rural waste and its impact on ecosystems.
  • Management of ground water and natural water resources, as well as water quality systems.
  • Innovation in relation to water technologies.
  • Government policies and regulations on water crises.
  • Africa was cited as a continent whose technology on water is short-sighted, although it has the highest potential for new innovation and new technology.
  • Water law and infrastructure.
  • Public participation on water issues.


  1. Interaction with the Hutchison Water


Hutchison Water Israel E.P.C Ltd is active in key strategic areas in the water business and it invests in the ground-breaking technologies in water and Cleantech[1] in more than 50 countries world-wide. It operates in projects providing services in areas of desalination, water and wastewater treatment, water re-use, and hydroelectric projects.  It has an incubator section and operates a start-up programme exploring innovative ideas on leakage detection processes and mechanisms.


They use sophisticated software to recycle water. They use less water when dealing with irrigation. The programme is also good in dealing with aging infrastructure.


They also have a pilot project in Johannesburg. The project also consists of a mini plan on what to do in an attempt to resolve the water crisis.


  1. Visit to Energia, Jerusalem


Energia installs solar panels and claim to supply a third of Jerusalem’s panels. They visited South Africa during the recent electricity crisis and are aware of South Africa’s power constraints. They currently form part of a consortium to build a concentrated solar power station in the Northern Cape.


Energia sees an opportunity for solar energy to grow exponentially. They believe that larger metros can collaborate with the smaller ones in order to form partnerships.





  1. Yissum Technology Transfer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


The Yissum Technology Transfer (YTT) is a company owned by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which markets the inventions and intellectual property generated by the University. Their motto is “Yissum Technology Transfer – where science means business”.


YTT is an incubator where research is done on the patenting and commercialization of science and health products. They have an in-house patent attorney who offers advice on issues relating to patenting.


YTT offers advice on science and the preventing of product theft. They have advised numerous start-ups which produce a whole range of products, including a number of health drugs, particularly on TB and AIDS.  YTT is known for developing the product called Exelon Novartis for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.


YTT has private investors who deal with diverse investment portfolios and assists new companies to break into the international market. They made reference to China and India as the most progressive countries in affordable medical products, and advised that there is a need for Israel to champion localization and development of their own projects and products to compete internationally.


  1. Van Leer Incubator


VLX (Van Leer Xenia) Ventures was formed as a partnership between Xenia Venture Capital and Van Leer Ventures, two leading Israeli early-stage investment centers, to jointly operate a technological incubator in Jerusalem and initiate and build-up innovative start-up companies in Israel.


VLX ventures specialize in the fields of High-Tech and Medical Devices, as well as the combination between them, namely Digital Health.


The incubator looks at science and technology businesses who are in need of education and guidance to grow into larger successful operations. They also provide financial backing to ensure success. They have created a technological ecosystem backed by venture capital funds for technological transfer and commercialization. Capital markets, industry and government are all stakeholders in this regard.


  1. Conclusions


The combination of domestic and international space industries and enterprises offered an extremely rich and unique Congress programme with many opportunities for exchange between industrialists, scientists, technologists, political representatives, community leaders, academia and a variety of professionals beyond the field of science. Participants were exposed to fresh measures and innovations that space science, exploration and technology contribute towards the eradication of poverty, disaster management, improving health care, environmental stability and development, communications, maritime control and navigation. The space industry with its research and development data can assist in addressing challenges such as the drought facing South Africa. The delegation made the following key conclusions:


  1. South Africa can more effectively harness the use of space technology to maximise opportunities for economic growth. In this regard, the technological ecosystem provides venture capital funds to enable technological transfer and commercialization. Capital markets, industry and government are all stakeholders in this regard.


  1. Space offers a new platform to generate skilled jobs and contribute to the transformation of the structure of the economy by offering opportunities to leap frog old technologies which could assist small, medium and micro enterprises even in deep rural areas of the country.


  1. The delegation noted that a number of youth actively participated in the Congress including a few South Africans, one of whom won an award. The youth should be encouraged to study space science and engineering and to consider pursuing careers in space-related industries. The public and private sectors should fund youth to participate in the various space fora and related conferences by writing and presenting papers and attending for exposure to these issues.


  1. South Africa is exploiting its geographic and knowledge advantage to explore and study space and astronomy through initiatives such as the construction of MeerKAT which will form part of the Square Kilometre Array. There is a need for further research and development in the area of space and astronomy, and for related scientific and engineering courses to be encouraged.


  1. The space fraternity has increased the number of portals available to researchers interested in accessing information. South African institutions and researchers are encouraged to contribute to and utilise these.


  1. Delegates wishing to deliver papers should do so timeously, given the decision to disseminate the theme for the next International Astronautical Congress, to be held in Mexico in September 2016, early in 2016.


  1. South Africa should continue to expand its manufacturing, engineering and knowledge production in this field. It should explore measures to increase collaboration with other countries in Africa as part of the regional and economic integration initiatives, but not excluding collaboration with countries outside of Africa. In this regard, the Department of Trade and Industry should encourage increased support for the crowding in of private sector investment in space-related industries.


  1. Space applications intersect with a wide range of disciplines that require closer co-ordination across the Departments of: Trade and Industry, Science and Technology, Defence, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, Postal and Telecommunications, Water and Sanitation and, Communication. This co-ordinated approach would enable South Africa to more effectively exploit the knowledge and information gained from the 2015 International Astronautical Congress in Israel.


  1. The role that space plays in relation to water is particular significant given South Africa’s water scarcity. The participation in both conferences enabled delegates to develop a greater appreciation of this relationship.


  1. The inclusion of delegates from relevant committees would add greater value and enrich parliament’s oversight functions. Previously, Parliament has sent a multi-committee delegation to International Astronautical Congresses. The last such delegation configuration attended the 2012 International Astronautical Congress, which took place in Italy.


  1. Recommendations


The committee recommends that the House request that:


  1. The Minister of Trade and Industry, in consultation with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, and the Minister of Science and Technology, should ensure that greater emphasis is placed on the development of strategic scientific, engineering and other skills. This will advance the development of the space industry in South Africa in alignment with the objectives of the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the technology focus of the country’s economic development path and would underpin the Nine-Point Priority Plan to drive the country forward and advance the quality of life for all people.


  1. The Minister of Trade and Industry should consider expediting the industrialisation of the space industry as it would contribute to the development of new generation jobs, innovation, and technological advances in the country.


  1. Parliament should in future consider sending a multi-committee delegation to attend the International Astronautical Congress and the International Meeting for Parliamentarians.


Report to be considered.




[1] Cleantech refers to clean technology.


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