The Astropreneurs interviewed Mr. Abraham Akinwale, CEO and Co-Founder of MPG Aerospace. Being a young entrepreneur from Nigeria, Mr. Akinwale is actively engaged with the students and young professionals of the space industry, promoting the NewSpace economy in his country. In his interview with us, he shares his journey and talks about space entrepreneurship in Nigeria and Africa.

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Astropreneurs: Please tell us something about your journey and what inspired you to be an astropreneur.

Abraham Akinwale: I am a Nigerian and I was trained as a mechanical engineer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. I grew up being a space enthusiast. I loved everything about space, the research, the applications, and just the idea of it inspires me all the time. My love for space gave me the opportunity to be the anchor and the President of the Space Club Obafemi Awolowo University from August 2014 to June 2017 where I was able to promote space activities in the university and its environment. We had space projects, outreach programs, CanSAT/Water Rocket Leadership Training Program, geocaching, and many other events. Space activities grew gradually over the years and it is my delight that space activities are still growing even after I left the office.
I have also since been able to join a non-profit, volunteer space organization which has helped promote space applications, outreach, and education within Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large. My position as the Nigerian National Point of Contact for the Space Generation Advisory Council has given me the opportunity to connect with students and young professionals globally. Additionally, I have the opportunity to educate students and young professionals to engage in this industry and to promote the future of the industry for the future.
MPG Aerospace, Ltd. is one of the leading African start-ups focused on the development of the African continent in terms of aerospace applications. The company leverages its team of young minds to begin manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to support satellite applications for earth observation, surveillance, and precision agriculture and to provide services in these lines. The organization designs from scratch with indigenous materials and manufactures based on specialized requirements. The company plans to start manufacturing satellite constellations to promote space applications and explorations in Nigeria and Africa in the next couple of years. The company is also open to partnerships and investors as it grows applications and data in its operations and dealings.

Astropreneurs: How has the Nigerian space market evolved over the years?

Abraham Akinwale: The Nigerian space market has experienced major developments over the past couple of years. There are three major arms that drive the economy: the government, the industry, and academia. Currently, in Nigeria, there are not many universities offering aerospace engineering degrees or space-related departments, but some departments have started to teach courses pertaining to space.  The National Space Research and Development Agency, the core of Nigeria’s space sector, has driven the space exploration and application beyond Nigeria. She has become the leading power of space in Africa; She is an example and role model to many countries in Africa. The only lacking sector in the continent presently is the space industry. As of 2019, there are still few space companies in the continent. Nigeria is gradually having space companies emerge, one of them is, MPG Aerospace Ltd. The company focused on satellite application and UAV manufacturing for earth observation, surveillance, aerial photography, mining, and more.

Astropreneurs: How about the African space market and its astropreneurial ventures in general?

Abraham Akinwale: Recently, the primary ventures making waves in the country and in the continent are dealing with software applications, earth observations, and space application services. The end service of providing support for security purposes, communication, and agriculture are giving room for more companies to influence and make ends meet in this country and in the continent at large.
Nigeria has some of the best programmers and software developers in the continent. The continent is gradually experiencing a flux increase of programmers, internet of things, virtual reality, robotics, and much other software and hardware input that can come together and help develop concrete and high leading space web in Africa. We have the brains and the talents, but what is more important is an encouraging environment, a coordinated approach, and financial support from the governments, private and public institutions of Africa.

Astropreneurs: What advice would you give to other astropreneurs?

Abraham Akinwale: For me, I am also still an emerging astropreneur, and one thing I have seen is that, just like starting out for every business, there is support for commitment. There should be respect and a humble approach to the stakeholders of the space sector in the government agencies. Let us respect those who have worked ahead of us and learn from them. Let us all partner and collaborate to get better and more pronounced success and move this continent forward. We can do a lot to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Let us all partner and collaborate to get better and more pronounced success.

Posted by Ananyo Bhattacharya