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Ethiopia launches first satellite with aid of China

Africa
By EAST AFRICA CORISPONDANT

ADDIS ABABA- East Africa technological giants Ethiopia on Friday launched her first satellite, joining the growing list of African countries exploring the space.

With the help of China, state media Fana said, the satellite will help the country monitor agricultural, mining and environmental protection. 

The scientific innovation, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, signifies that “Ethiopia has joined the effort to seek knowledge and information from space."

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 on Friday.

Climate change has been in the focus of Ethiopia, raising the urge to collect data for weather forecasting as a mean of embracing technology in Agriculture.

"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.

Engineers from Ethiopia and China played a major role in assembling the satellite, with the work starting nearly three years ago.

Chinese government paid about $6m of the more than $7m manufacturing costs, Solomon Belay, director-general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, told Reuters News Agency.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is among the brainchild of the success, having started the programme while serving as minister for technology.

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.

"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.

China is becoming a major partner in Africa development, causing a significant paradigm shift from traditional Western allies.

“This is a day we became one of the 70 countries in the world that operate a satellite from space,” said Ahmedin Mohammed, an official with Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Ministry.

“The next step is to launch a communication satellite and also set up a space materials assembly and manufacturing facility here in Ethiopia.”

The satellite was sent into space from Shanxi Province in China. Ethiopian and Chinese officials monitored the launch from a command and control centre set up in the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa

Mr Ahmed is credited for significant social-economic and geopolitical reforms in Ethiopia since taking over from Hailemariam Desalegn in 2018.

In October, he won Nobel Peace Prize following his massive reforms including sealing a peace deal with Eritrea. He received the award in Oslo last week.

 GAROWE ONLINE 

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