Rwanda is on course to launch its first satellite this year, joining the list of few countries in Africa that have placed the devices into orbit.
The initiative is in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The new developments were announced by the Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority (RURA).
“We are trying to shorten the timeline. It will be launched after the Transform Africa summit,” Patrick Nyirishema, RURA’s Director General, said.
Transform Africa is an annual event hosted in Kigali that explores developments in technology. This year it will be hosted in May.
For Rwanda, plans to launch its own satellite, and the bigger plans to initiate the long-term space programme, were first announced back in 2017.
A model of the Rwanda satellite prototype was first displayed last year by the Japan-Rwanda team of experts during the 2018 Transform Africa Summit in Kigali.
Having a satellite in the orbit in today’s world is considered a leap in technological development.
Less than 10 African countries have managed to launch satellites. However, as the devices get smaller and more affordable, more African countries are planning to take advantage of data from the satellites.
A team of five Rwandan engineers are currently at the University of Tokyo working with their Japanese counterparts on the project. They have been part of the design and building of the satellite.
RURA disclosed that another team of 15 engineers will be trained locally in satellite technology, starting next month.
The Government wants to use satellite technology for different kinds of research as it looks to apply satellite data in planning.
The data will assist in areas such as precision agriculture, predicting weather patterns, including drought among other sectors.
“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.