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Namibia launches space science and astronomy policy


Research chairs and centres on the cards in national roadmap

Namibia hopes to create research chairs and research centres in space science and astronomy over the next five years, as part of a policy launched this month.

By 2026 the policy aims to have created two space science centres of excellence: one in high performance computing, the other in remote sensing. It also aims to create three research chairs in the same period: in astronomy, geoinformatics, and communication and navigation.

The centres and chairs have the highest anticipated budget in the policy, their total annual funding climbing to 10 million Namibian dollars (US$730,000) by the 2025/26 financial year. This funding will also support 10 masters and PhD students per year from 2022/23.

The policy, launched on 4 June by higher education and technology minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi, aims to be a “guiding framework” for space-related activities. It seeks to build space national science and astronomy capacity while boosting the country’s international collaborations in these fields.

Namibia invests about 0.35 per cent of its gross domestic product in research and innovation, and “arguably 0 per cent” towards space science-related R&I, say the policy’s creators, the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation and the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, which will coordinate the policy’s implementation.

The policy envisages that Namibia’s government commits resources for its implementation, while it also suggests exploring partnerships with the private sector and international partners to increase the country’s total space and astronomy spending.

The country will also pursue memberships in global space regulatory bodies, create new and strengthen existing collaboration programmes, and popularise space science and astronomy and its applications in Namibia.