Ethiopia, helped by China, launched its first observatory satellite into space on Dec. 20, joining other African countries that have developed space programs to boost scientific innovation.
The satellite will be used for agricultural, climate, mining and environmental observation that is expected to greatly improve the Horn of Africa country’s ability to plan for changing weather patterns. Ethiopia has been hit by severe famines in the past.
“This will be a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity,” deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen said in a speech at the launch event at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center a few miles north of Addis Ababa.
The Chinese government paid about $6 million of the more than $7 million cost of constructing and launching the satellite, Solomon Belay, director general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, told Reuters.
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The launch, which was originally scheduled for September, took place at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Xinzhou, Shanxi Province, China.
The African Union has also introduced an African space policy, which calls for the development of a continental outer-space program and the adoption of a framework to use satellite communication for economic progress.
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