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Topnews, Statements

22. Juni 2018

NATIONAL STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, 61st SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS COMMITTEE ON THE PEACEFUL USES OF OUTER SPACE, 22 JUNE 2018, VIENNA, AUSTRIA 

AGENDA ITEM 4: SOUTH – AFRICAN COUNTRY STATEMENT

GENERAL EXCHANGE OF VIEWS (GEV)

Madam Chairperson,

We wish to congratulate you, on the assumption as the chair, during the significant year for Outer Space Governance. In this 61st session of UNCOPUOS, we believe that you, alongside other new chairpersons of the Sub-Committees, will bring-forth vigour, as we chart forward towards Space 2030.

We would also like to recognise the dedication and commitment by the Director of the Office of Outer Space Affairs, Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo.  We further congratulate the office on the excellent preparations for the UNISPACE +50 symposium and high-level forum that has just been concluded. 

We also welcome all the new UNCOPUOS member states, organisations and observers, that have joined, since June 2017. We look forward to welcoming new members in future, as this Committee is further strengthened.

The South African delegation, is aligned to the statements delivered by the Group of 77, China and the Africa Group, respectively.

Madam Chairperson,

The discourse made to advance the peaceful use of outer space; and the approval of the UNISPACE+50 Resolution, for endorsement by the General Assembly; has been significant. In particular, South Africa also looks forward to, being part of the process that will develop the SPACE “2030” Agenda, with all the other nations.

In addition to the above, central to the narrative of the conference, is the utilisation of Outer Space, as a key driver towards the delivery of the 2030 Agenda; for Sustainable Development. Through this, the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment; faced by many developing countries in Africa will be addressed.

Given the importance of the SDG’s, South Africa and other countries in Africa, will have crucial priorities to include, in the Space “2030” Agenda.

Madam Chairperson,

This year is also significant, for the Working Group on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space activities, under the stewardship of our own, Dr. Martinez, as it comes to an end.

In this regard, South Africa implores all Member States to forge ahead, ensuring that the success achieved thus far; as per the Preamble and 21 Guidelines, is realized. Therefore, the importance of UNCOPUOS as the only multilateral body, representing all States in space governance will be cemented.

However, South Africa remains cognizant of the fact that, it may not be possible to finalize all the proposed Guidelines, before the Working Group. We fully note the significance of the Guidelines. A mechanism should be agreed upon, to ensure that they are addressed accordingly; and further form part of the global regime, for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space.

Madam Chairperson,

South Africa, remains committed to the international agreements, treaties and conventions, to which it is a signatory. In this vein, South Africa is in the process of finalising a review of its existing Space legislation, to include new provisions, incorporating the dynamisms of the domestic and international outer space arena. 

We have a vibrant developing Space sector, which is part of a dynamic space community in Africa, with our own space agency. We fully endorse multilateralism, in terms of dealing with issues that affect the well-being of our planet, regardless of the level of development.

South Africa is also aware that there are numerous challenges, that lie before UNCOPUOS with regards to applications of space science, space debris issues and space traffic management; to permit the ease of safe access to space, and the exploitation of space resources.

In this regard, we urge UNCOPUOS to take the initiative to facilitate the equitable use of outer space, in support of maintaining it in a sustainable manner.

Madam Chairperson,

Nationally, we are pleased to confirm the pro-active approach by the South African Council for Space Affairs, as a regulatory body, under the leadership of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Space Council has been working diligently to support the review of the South African Space legislation. We are also honoured to have part of the South African delegation, the Chairperson of the Council, Ms Maruping, who is the current chair of the Science and Technical Sub-Committee of UNCOPUOS.

Madam Chairperson,

On the implementation side, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), is actively involved in pursuing relations with other Space faring nations in Africa. SANSA participated at the SpaceOps2018, a global Space Operations exhibition, taking place earlier this month in Marseille, France. Their participation was also a build up to South Africa hosting this conference in 2020. This will be the first time in which an illustrious event, for the space operations community, is held on African shores. South Africa is certainly, geared for the world to recognise the expertise it offers.

In December 2017, South Africa hosted the United Nations Symposium on Basic Space Technology, which was held in Stellenbosch, Cape Town.  The event was co-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Government of the Republic of South Africa. It was further co-sponsored by the European Space Agency. The symposium was attended by more than 130 participants from 32 Countries, including 11 African countries.

There were also 32 presentations, which included legal and regulatory matters. The participants of the Symposium, noted that the African continent has high potential for growth; in the field of small satellites. This can significantly benefit the local development of satellites and the use of its applications; for social and economic development.

Madam Chairperson,

We are pleased to note that November 2017, marked four years since the launch of South Africa’s third satellite. Furthermore, the first CubeSat, namely, Tshepiso-Sat, was also launched as the first to be developed in Africa. Through this mission, 30 students from the Continent, were trained. A cost effective platform, for scientific missions was developed, international partnership with France and the UK was fostered and a growing portfolio of CubeSat components, which has a potential of creating new economic activity in the country was developed.  

Another CubeSat, ZA Cube-2 by Cape Peninsula University of Technology(CPUT), has been finalized, licensed and will be launched in September this year.  This satellite will meet the user requirements for domain awareness of our oceans extended economic zone. ZA-Cube 2 is the precursor to a constellation of satellites that will be used in the monitoring of the oceans economy. Just as a reminder, South Africa has a land mass of 1.2 million km2 and an EEZ of 1.5 million km2, further demonstrating that satellite technology is essential to economic development of our country.

Madam Chairperson,

We are also excited to announce that President Ramaphosa will be unveiling the recently completed 64-dish array radio telescope, MeerKAT on the 13 July 2018.

Finally, allow me to reiterate the significance of this year’s events as critical for building continued international cooperation in achieving the goal of space as a driver for sustainable development. We all agree to the importance of Outer Space for the continued peaceful and sustainable co-existence of all peoples and South Africa looks forward to being an active part of the determination of the Space Agenda.

Thank you, Madam Chair

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