The definitive road-map that Kenya needs to follow in order to establish a domestic space sector from scratch will essentially entail ascending the space technology capability hierarchy pyramid.
This scrupulous technology capability evolution process will involve initial lumpy resource investments whose benefits will be commensurate with the level technology sophistication.
We choose to segment Kenya’s road-map to establish a domestic space sector into 8 phases and describe the respective activities required at each phase. These phases are summarized in the schematic below.
Though the technological capabilities phases might appear contiguous, it does not mean that 100% fulfillment of the activities in a particular phase is a prerequisite for engaging in the activities of the immediately succeeding phase. The activities of a given phase will tend to diffuse to immediately adjacent phases (or even a couple of phases further away) to varying degrees. For instance, though the indigenous mastery of launch capability is designated in phase 7, the prerequisite undertakings to realize this milestone are actually executed in prior phases 1 to 6. The segmented phases in effect highlight the key space technology milestones to be achieved as key performance indicators. Each phase is further illustrated with the corresponding technological capability as defined by the space technology capability hierarchy pyramid.
Next, we shall explore further the details of each phase.
- Phase 1
This phase is primarily tasked with establishing the prerequisite foundational structures upon which the domestic space sector will be established. The obligatory sensitization campaign, political groundwork, legal framework and fiscal rationalization will be conducted during this phase. Activities here are hence principally focused on creating the requisite enabling environment to commence the formation of the Kenya space sector.
Creating general awareness and educating the masses on space technology and its relevance to the apparent national development needs is hence the first activity to be undertaken. Moreover, general sensitization of Kenyans about space technology is essential because it will dovetail into drumming up the vital political will and support needed to facilitate burgeoning of the sector. Creating this awareness should be done by professionals and organizations that possess unquestionable expertise in space matters. A good example is this website—www.spacekenya.org.
A successful public awareness drive would culminate in realizing a critical awareness threshold required to precipitate an unyielding political will. Political will and support are indispensable if the government is to act and take the necessary measures required to establish a domestic space sector.
Riding on the accrued political support from the public, legislature and executive, next, the government should embark on developing a national space policy. Appropriate vehicles like a commission composed of space industry experts, public policy experts, academicians, international relations experts etc should be constituted to draft Kenya’s space policy. Furthermore, this undertaking should be done in conjunction with assistance from friendly countries that possess established space programs; Kenya will immensely benefit from their experiences.
The adopted Kenya space policy will act to guide the legislature in enacting the relevant legal framework that will render the domestic space sector operational. Within the legal framework, a clear and effective regulatory framework is imperative to guarantee adherence to competitive international practices.
A Kenyan space policy would further guide the country in defining the space sector objectives. As we previously stated, space technology should directly serve the socioeconomic needs of the masses. Consequently, the primary objective of the Kenyan space sector should be to expedite the national development agenda and lift the citizens out of poverty. Period! Derivatives from this fundamental objective will constitute the detailed secondary and tertiary objectives.
It is also important to articulate the measures of performance and key performance indicators to guide and evaluate the progress of the envisioned space sector in this phase. The activities in this phase can be effectively accomplished within 1 to 5 five years based on the government’s level of commitment and dedication.