Ethiopia launched its first satellite into space on December 20.
Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia Demeke Mekonnen said it was a groundbreaking achievement for the country’s prosperity.
“This will be a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity,” said Mekonmen.
Solomon Belay, director-general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute said the satellite was designed by Chinese and Ethiopian engineers and the Chinese government paid about $6 million (Ksh603.6 million) of the more than $7 million (Ksh703.6 miiom) manufacturing costs.
“Space is food, space is job creation, a tool for technology…sovereignty, to reduce poverty, everything for Ethiopian to achieve universal and sustainable development,” said Belay.
As quoted by Reuters, the satellite will be used for weather forecast and crop monitoring, officials said.
More sub-Saharan African nations have been striving to develop space programmes to advance their development goals and encourage scientific innovation.
Ethiopia becomes the eighth African nation to launch its own satellite into space after Kenya.
Kenya’s first satellite, which was built by the University of Nairobi, was deployed to space in May 2018.
Known as the First Kenyan University Nano Satellite—Precursor Flight (1KUNS-PF), the satellite is a product of University of Nairobi, in collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo Programme” and United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
Nigeria was the first African state to launch a satellite into space in 2003.
It was named Nigeriasat-1 into orbit. The gadget was built with an estimated cost of $13 million (Ksh1.3 billion). Its expected life was 5 years but it lasted 8 years.
The African Union adopted a policy on African space development in 2017 and declared that space science and technology could advance economic progress and natural resource management on the continent.