Ethiopia launches first satellite – with a lot of help fro China

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Ethiopia joined the space race on Friday with the launch of the East African nation’s first satellite.

Deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen said the satellite marks “a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity” in a speech at the launch ceremony. The satellite will be used for weather forecasting and crop monitoring and put Ethiopia among Africa’s most advanced space programmes.

Ethiopia launches its first satellite

Ethiopia’s first satellite was designed by Chinese and Ethiopian engineers with Beijing funding roughly $6 million of the project believed to cost more than $7 million (£5.5m) in manufacturing costs alone.

The launch reinforces Ethiopia’s place among Africa’s most prominent space programmes, joined by Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Nigeria and South Africa have the most advanced space programmes across the continent while Kenya joined the club by beating Ethiopia to launch its first satellite earlier this year.

The space programmes have divided critics with some arguing African nations should devote such funds to more pressing issues. However, others insist space development will drive growth and technology advancements, particularly where satellites are used to improve weather predictions and crop monitoring.

Featured image: “Ethiopia from space” flickr photo by http://globalquiz.org https://flickr.com/photos/knowledge-test/22715604583 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.