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Space Should Not Be an Exclusive Club, Follow Me! Africa’s First Woman Astronaut Urges Continent


“The demographic in space must reflect that of people on Earth.”

Africa’s first woman in space, 30-year-old Sara Sabry from Egypt, says space exploration should not be an exclusive club.

The founder of the Deep Space Initiative(link is external) was the centre of attraction on Tuesday 4 July during a panel discussion at the Africa50 Infra Forum and General Shareholders Meeting held in Togo’s capital Lomé.

Investors and policymakers listened keenly, often erupting in applause as Sara stretched their imagination during a TED Talks-style  discussion with Dr. Victor Oladokun, Senior Advisor to the President of the African Development Bank on Communication and Stakeholder Engagement. The theme of the discussion was  “A Different View: Africa’s future reimagined.”

She was emphatic that regional and global efforts should be intensified to enable more Africans to participate in space exploration s to advance the continent’s socioeconomic transformation.

“I don’t think Space should be such an exclusive club. To be the first at something is to kick down the door for others to follow,” Sabry said.  “It is important for Africa to have a seat at the table and be involved in space exploration. The demographic in space must reflect that of people on Earth.”

Sabry, who was 29 years old at the time, made history last year when she traveled into space on the New Shepard rocket developed by Blue Origin, an American aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Speaking during the event, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group described Sabry as an inspiration.    

“As a young African scientist, you give hope that young people can be in space despite the odds. It is often said that women can do what men can do, but I can say that women can do better than men,” Adesina said.

Sabry stressed that Africans should pursue space travel. “It is important for Africa to build its capacity in space technology and gain its own control,” she said.

Experts believe that satellite technology can have a significant impact on rapidly developing African countries by advancing technologies in weather forecasting, agriculture, navigation,  banking, and online education.

Sabry also called for a review of laws that restrict people from participating in space exploration.

Sabry’s non-profit, the Deep Space Initiative, works to make space exploration more accessible to more people globally.

Oladokun described Sara as an embodiment of the hope and aspirations of many.

Source: African Development Bank Group

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