ATC130806: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on the joint attendance with the Portfolio Committees on Science and Technology and on Rural Development and Land Reform of the 4th International Meeting for Parliamentarians as part of the 63rd  International Astronautical  Congress held in Naples, Italy, 30 September 2012, dated 31 July 2013

Trade and Industry

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on the joint attendance with the Portfolio Committees on Science and Technology and on Rural Development and Land Reform of the 4 th International Meeting for Parliamentarians as part of the 63 rd International Astronautical Congress held in Naples, Italy, 30 September 2012, dated 31 July 2013

The Committees having attended the fourth International Meeting for Parliamentarians as part of the 63 rd International Astronautical Congress hosted by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), reports as follows:

1. Introduction

The IAF brings together major players in the space sector, including institutional, public and private sector stakeholders, on an international scale. In the context of developing its vision: “A space-faring world cooperating for the benefit of humanity”, the IAF has been expanding its network to include the community of politicians with a special focus on Members of Parliaments. As the responsible oversight Portfolio Committees regarding space matters in South Africa, the IAF invited members of the Portfolio Committees on Trade and Industry, on Science and Technology and on Rural Development and Land Reform to attend the 4 th International Meeting for Parliamentarians held in Naples, Italy, on 30 September 2012 and the 63 rd International Astronautical Congress on 1 to 6 October 2012.

In pursuing this initiative, the IAF offered Members of Parliaments a well-defined and organised platform for a dialogue with the traditional space community (governmental representatives, agencies, industry, engineers and scientists) on a global scale. The event gave an opportunity to present to political stakeholders from governing and non-governing parties alike the potential of current or future space technologies to deal with key topics of global interest. The key topic for the 4 th International Meeting for Members of Parliaments was “Satellite Applications – Tools for Policy Implementation and Verification”.

The following Members of Parliament attended:

1. Ms J L Fubbs (ANC) (Chairperson of the PC on Trade and Industry and the leader of the delegation)

2. Dr E N N Ngcobo (ANC) (Chairperson of the PC on Science and Technology)

3. Mr P S Sizani (ANC) (Chairperson of the PC on Rural Development and Land Reform)

Members of Parliament were able to share experiences of their respective countries and to engage on the case studies presented by scientists and manufacturers of astronautical equipment but also the components that had been invented and produced for this field but which were more widely used in society such as various communication systems and gadgets. An additional purpose of the meeting was to identify and draw the linkages between the scientific sectors and the consequent benefits to society as a whole. Parliamentarians and scientists spent a full day in such discussions. The South African parliamentary delegation also participated in meetings of the IAF Africa Regional Group and attended various technical sessions of the Congress .

2 . Legislative mandate

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 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 South African National Space Agency (SANSA) has been established under the Department of Science and Technology to implement the National Space Strategy.

3. The 4 th International meeting for Members of Parliaments

Ms M Vaissiere , Director for Telecommunications and Integrated Applications for the European Space Agency (ESA), presented a paper on the “Potential for Sustainable Services and Economic Growth”. The focus was on maintaining and improving competition in the European industry on the promotion of the use of satellite technology. The reliance on the satellite infrastructure to communicate, travel, and in support of rescue and relief efforts cannot be over-emphasised. Satellite technologies and applications are also used for developing and monitoring precision agriculture, trading and fishing policies which enables the creation of business opportunities, therefore having a direct link to economic growth. A critical observation was that if the penetration of broadband increases domestically, it would have a positive impact on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

Challenges relating to the provision of information in real-time remain a concern but Europe is building a communication relay system that would allow for the transmission of information in real-time.

In respect of future air travel safety, ESA is developing a programme that could provide satellite communications for air traffic control. This application could contribute to indirect growth by allowing greater volume of aircraft to fly safely.

4. Special achievements/milestones reached by the South African government

The following special achievements/milestones were achieved by the responsible South African government departments and entities such as the Departments of Science and Technology, and of Trade and Industry (DTI) and various councils:

· The IAF African Regional Group meetings agreed on the objectives of the Regional Group for the period November 2012 to September 2013.

· The possible hosting of an International Space University (ISU) session in South Africa in 2015 was discussed with representatives of the ISU and SA delegations. Hosting such a programme in South Africa would have major capacity building benefits for the country and the Continent at large. Follow-up discussions with potential SA partner institutions are ongoing.

· Meetings with experts in Space law regarding the current study that South Africa is undertaking as a precursor to the review of the Space Affairs Act.

· Attending the IISL ( International Institute of Space Law) Moot Court Competition, this is a capacity building programme for space law. South Africa through the DTI and the University of Pretoria coordinated the first ever African regional round and supported the winning team to attend the International Astronautical Congress in 2012.

· Attending various informative plenary sessions with parliamentary members on the broad applications of space in telecommunications, navigation, urban planning, geo-spatial activities, disaster monitoring and management, which in turn would enable the state to enhance its service delivery.

· A meeting was held with the Indian delegation and the SANSA on concluding a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and introducing the agency as an implementing body for this agreement.

5. Lessons learnt/value added to the DTI

· In addition to advancing South Africa’s interests in the global space arena, substantial progress was also made on a number of responsibilities that South Africa currently have within the United Nations and international intergovernmental organisations.

· The huge exhibition space at the 63 rd International Astronautical Congress provided South Africa with an opportunity to have discussions with a number of companies in the space, aerospace and electro-technical sectors, which exhibited inherent cross-cutting areas. In the absence of parliamentary staff, the DTI officials had to provide support to the Parliamentary delegation attending the annual Members of Parliament meeting within the IAF framework.

· Interactions also took place with a number of stakeholders from the education sector, technology and innovation advancement institutions, and trade and industry development sectors. It was highly valuable to meet with a number of country delegates in the space arena to understand the similarities with the South African space structure and their rationale for their institutional framework. Discussions also related to international regulatory challenges, trends and developments. Lessons were learnt from the Canadian, Korean and Indian space arenas which are potential partners for South Africa in the space and related sectors.

6. Concluding remarks

Space is ubiquitous. Space industries touch every South African through: ATM’s; cell-phones; GPS; radio and television; weather forecasts, the internet, stock-markets and exchange-rates. Whether planning for dams, roads, towns or hubs, the economic impact of space technologies and applications are virtually incalculable. Space technologies and applications can improve the lives of all South Africans.

We have had the industrial revolution, the technical revolution and indeed now we have the cyber and space revolution. Always, these revolutions facilitated trade and had a vision to improve the lives of the people. In Africa and indeed our country, South Africa, we are intent on building infrastructure, and the space industry and technology is about infrastructure. South Africa is committed to becoming a producer, and a contributor not only a consumer of the benefits of space industry and technology. South Africa now more than ever is ideally positioned to develop a favourable position in the world of space.

Part of the answer lies in stimulating industry and technology development and also in having the right government involvement and regulatory and legal frameworks in place. Having a South African stand at the IAC exhibition provided a very convenient platform for members of our delegation to interact with their international counterparts. This platform assisted to showcase the country’s aerospace industry and continuation and broadening of such a provision with Trade and Industry South Africa would be advisable in the future to enable other thriving South African companies.

Awareness of what the South African government is doing on a national and international level is also necessary within the parliamentary structures and the delegation found that to be quite valuable for understanding and committing to the space programme, which includes the space industry .

Documents

No related documents