By Tesfa Mogessie
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
The Entoto Space Observatory and Research Center, the first of its kind in Ethiopia, says it has been preparing to launch a satellite by 2025, enabling the Horn of Africa country to join the international spacestation.
The observatory was established three years ago by the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS) at the top of the Entoto Mountains – a chain of mostly eucalyptus strewn hills in the northern part of the capital, Addis Ababa.
The ESSS was founded 11 years ago by 47 volunteers from different scientific fields to create public awareness around space science issues.
The society began by putting the needs of Ethiopian space science in perspective.
According to Dr. Tulu Beshah, division head of the observatory’s Earth Observation, the satellite launch will mean that Ethiopia no longer has to seek data from the satellites of other countries.
Ethiopia spends close to $100 million per year in order to access information gathered by other satellite launching nations, according to information obtained from the observatory.
“We will launch a satellite into space by the year 2025,” Dr. Tulu said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in his office at Addis Ababa University’s Technology Faculty Campus.
The information collected by the satellite will be used by Ethiopian students and also researchers from other countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.
The observatory also signed a memorandum of understanding with Finland Space Science Technology last year, which Dr. Tulu described as crucial to helping his country’s dream come true.
However, a shortage of skilled workers and modern technology has become a constraint on development, Dr. Tulu said.
Courses on space science are being offered to students in universities to help fill the loophole in skilled human resources, he said.
“We are working to provide space science courses to students in more universities,” said ESSS General Manager Amare Babu.
Amare said that space science had long been neglected in the country, hinting that the ESSS will be turned into a government run-institution in the near future to raise its public profile and solve its funding issues.
The Ethiopian government seems to be increasing investment in space science research and development, recently laying the foundations of a rocket launching pad in Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia.