Following the success of the first African Space Generation Workshop (AF-SGW) in Nigeria last year, the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, is organising its major event in Mauritius on the 17th and 18th of December 2018.
The African Space Generation workshop series is back and this year, it's bigger and better than ever, as over 100 delegates from across the continent: Students, young professionals, industry representatives and space agencies will all gather for a 2-day workshop at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre (RGSC) in Mauritius. The regional event will provide a platform for people from different segments of the space industry such as space enthusiasts, academia, space startups, space agencies and other stakeholders to come together for interactive high-level panel discussions, keynotes, and participant-led working groups.
With the theme for this year, “Launching Africa: Space Exploration, Innovation and Business”, the focus is on enhancing the space and scientific engagements in the African continent. It will be a triggering factor within the continent to initiate and support future regional and global space policy initiatives, as well as encourage youth contribution and enhance international cooperation.
All discussions are expected to produce recommendations for relevant public, private and non-governmental sectors helping to shape the future of African space industry. Reports and recommendations from the workshop will also be presented at high-level conferences and included in the SGAC annual report submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS).
Why such a workshop in Mauritius?
Hansley Noruthun, the Event Manager, explains that the primary objective is to bring together students and young professionals to examine and stimulate interdisciplinary perspectives on space and scientific matters in the African region. “Give an opportunity for the next generation to explore, learn and network with experts and industry representatives from academia, businesses and space agencies. Create a platform for the region for exchanges involving challenges, solutions and opportunities focused towards national/regional initiatives, policies and international cooperation.”
According to him, Mauritius has had a long-standing interest and involvement in the sector with projects such as the Mauritius Radio Telescope (MRT) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. “Recent developments such as the Mauritian CubeSat project (MIRT-SAT1), Radio Astronomy Research programs and local initiative such as the Mauritius Space and Science Foundation (MSSF) seem to favour such advancement in the sector.”
Need for scientific excellence in Mauritius and Africa by having a well trained human-resources and cross-country collaboration, he adds. “Capacity-building and the need for outreach/awareness program is significant for the next generation to take lead. The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) can play a crucial role in meeting this target, as it works diligently to raise awareness among the next generation of space professionals on a global scale working together with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN OOSA) in promoting UN workshops and activities, and in supporting SGAC members to attend space conferences around the world.”
What will it bring to Mauritius?
The workshop will be a unique experience for Mauritius where it will gather students, young professionals and experts on one main platform. It will attract international experts whose multidisciplinary expertise can benefit Mauritius’ upcoming sector. “The focus is not on individuals from technical or scientific backgrounds, rather it is focused on bringing a wide variety of disciplines together - from law & policy, business & entrepreneurship to arts & creative industries. The goal is to strengthen capacity-building in the region, aim for local outreach & awareness and encourage collaboration between stakeholders,” highlights the Event Manager.
For instance, he reveals that the workshop can offer a chance to discuss and develop policies for the implementation of a potential space sector. “The main drivers for economic growth in Mauritius remain the financial, tourism and trade sector; having an opportunity to expand to new sectors could truly benefit the country in the long-term. The economic conditions of Mauritius seem favourable, and the country can make the most of it by a combination of both government and private investments, we could truly become African’s next scientific or space hub.”
Lastly, this year 2018 marks the 50th Independence Anniversary of Mauritius, hence an important time in the history of the country. To take a leap forward towards such innovative and technological advancement could truly have a positive impact in terms of both the local and regional community, we could be at the dawn of a new era for our country, believes Hansley Noruthun.
Space for Art Foundation
In the same context, a Space for Art Foundation will be set up. It is a project of the Space for Art Foundation in collaboration with the African Space Generation Workshop in Mauritius. The Apollo 8 mission to the Moon and the Earthrise image crew took from space celebrate their 50th anniversary in December this year. This art project is in honour of Apollo 8 and Earthrise and the unifying message they convey – in this one image is the “who and where” we all are. The pieces the children paint will be combined with the art work from other children around the world to create the Exploration spacesuit. The art spacesuit and all art projects that result from it are the property of the Space for Art Foundation.
The Mauritian Team
Hansley Noruthun, Event Manager
Hansley Noruthun is currently the National Point of Contact (NPoC) of Mauritius for the Space Generation Advisory Council in Support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications.
As a bioscientist, an elected associate of King’s College London, and an alumnus of the International Space University, he was awarded the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency scholarship to attend the International Space University’s Space Studies Program hosted by NASA’s Glenn Research Center.
Keshav Ooriah, Programme Team
Keshav Ooriah is currently finishing his final year in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at London South Bank University. He was awarded top of the class for the first and second year, and is expected to graduate with a first class honours degree.
As part of his sandwich course, he spent a year at AIRBUS in the UK whereby he worked as a Trainee Test Engineer for the Fuel and Landing Gear Systems of all Airbus Commercial Aircrafts (A320, A350 & A380).
Local Organising Team
Dr. Roddy Lollchund
Roddy Lollchund is currently the Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Mauritius. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Physics, a PhD in Computational Fluid Dynamics and a Postdoc in Materials Engineering.
He has been lecturing at the University of Mauritius for the past nine years and his research interests are in Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Multiphase flows.
Bhamini Kamudu Applasawmy
Bhamini Applasawmy is known for promoting astronomy and communicating science to the public for the past ten years as the Resource Officer/Senior Resource of the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, Mauritius.
She conceived and run several informal science education programmes to engage students, educators, and the general public in science.
Kevin Appadoo is currently undergoing an undergraduate course in Physics with Computing at the University of Mauritius. His fields of interest are programming, electronics, and Physics.
As he has always been interested in knowing the mechanics behind everything, he took an Electronics and Electrical Engineering course in parallel with his high school studies, and is also the reason for being a current physics student.
Sidharta Runganaikaloo is a ball of anxiety who discovered her calling when engaging in social through the organisation of SYAH in 2015. Her passion and dedication for the protection of environment got noticed when she held the first Conference of Youth (COY12) in Mauritius.
Since then, she co-founded the local chapter of SYAH-Mauritius and became the focal point of contact. Using different social media platforms, she has become an advocate for a plastic0-free and zero-waste lifestyle. Using mostly personal experiences, her story demonstrates that life without plastic is possible.
Naeem Hosenbocus is currently studying Medicine at the University of Mauritius (UoM). Last year, he has been participating actively in culture-sharing events organized by various clubs on campus.
As a medical student, his main goal is to upgrade the facilities being given to the elderly in homes and to disabled children in specialized centers to improve their quality of life. He is looking forward as to how innovations in the space sector can benefit the medical sector.
Farrdeez Noorah is a Petroleum Engineer from the London South Bank University.
He has consistently, over the course of his studies, been awarded as the top student and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the same field.