Just like other African countries exploring space with their own satellites, Rwanda has just announced plans to launch its own in 2019.
The East African nation is working together with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in this project, according to the Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority (RURA).
“We are trying to shorten the timeline. It will be launched after the Transform Africa summit,” said Patrick Nyirishema, RURA’s Director General.
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Transform Africa, an annual ICT summit, is scheduled for May this year in Kigali, making it the first satellite to be launched in 2019 ahead of Ethiopia’s launch in September.
Similar plans were announced back in 2017, with a model satellite presented to the public for the first time in 2018 in Kigali.
According to New Times, five Rwandan engineers are working with their Japanese counterparts at the University of Tokyo on the design and construction of the satellite. Fifteen other engineers are also set to be trained locally in satellite technology.
The satellite is expected to provide the government with data to help it plan well in various sectors including agriculture and predicting weather patterns,
“Satellite technology will not only build capabilities for our people, it will also give us capacity, for instance, to inspect certain activities within the agriculture sector, monitor wetlands as part of environment conservation efforts, and in smart urban planning,” Nyirishema pointed out.
All these individual country satellite projects are in line with the African Union (AU) African Space Policy, launched in 2017. It acknowledges the benefits of space exploration and recommends the use of satellites for development and economic progress.