Ethiopia launches first satellite
Ethiopia launched its first satellite into space on 20 December 2019, as more sub-Saharan African nations strive to develop space programs to advance their development goals and encourage scientific innovation. Before dawn on 20 December 2019, senior officials and citizens gathered at the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre just north of the capital Addis Ababa to watch a live broadcast of the satellite's launch from a space station in China.
- This will be a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity,” deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen said in a speech at the launch event broadcast on state television.
- The satellite was designed by Chinese and Ethiopian engineers and the Chinese government paid about $6 million of the more than $7 million manufacturing costs, Solomon Belay, director general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute.
- Space is food, space is job creation, a tool for technology...sovereignty, to reduce poverty, everything for Ethiopian to achieve universal and sustainable development.
- The satellite will be used for weather forecast and crop monitoring.
- 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.
- It is the eighth launch of an African satellite this year, topping the previous record of seven in 2017, according to Temidayo Oniosun, managing director of Space in Africa, a Nigeria-based firm that tracks African space programs.
- The launch makes Ethiopia the 11th African country to put a satellite into space. Egypt was the first in 1998.
- China covered most of the $8 million cost of the satellite, according to an official involved in Ethiopia’s space program who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose details of the project.
- The space program was originally championed by private individuals who formed the Ethiopian Space Science Society in 2004.
- The government established the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute in 2016.