In this third episode of Space Economy Insights, Kevin O’Connell interviewed Dr. Zolana Joao, Director General of the Angolan National Space Office and Architect of Angola’s Space Strategy. Dr. Joao has a background in electrical engineering and a doctorate in engineering management from George Washington University, with a focus on productivity and efficiency in large, complex space projects.
Kevin and Zolana spoke about the genesis of the Angolan National Space Office, borne out of the end of conflict for Angola and driven by the need to create connectivity in order to improve education and economic growth. They reviewed highlights of the original Angolan Space Strategy (2016-2025) in areas like capacity building, encouraging private sector activities, and international engagement and previewed how those might change in a future update.
A continuing theme throughout their conversation was the need to educate future space leaders in order to “speak the language of space” while also ensuring the ability to communicate the importance of space publicly and to key decision-makers. The challenges of earth and space sustainability demand effective solutions from which space can play an outsized role. They also covered the importance of “smart” partnerships and the key role that space can play in solving problems like poverty and hunger, partly through national strategy and support for private sector activities.
Kevin and Zolana also discussed a broader set of exciting space developments across the African continent, including the establishment of the African Space Agency earlier this year. While Africa’s portion of the global space economy is still small, it is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Some analysts think that Africa can leapfrog over some of the technical developments and play a unique and important leadership role in the future space economy.
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