Rwanda Space Agency (RSA), the national institution charged with overseeing space-based technologies and programmes will this Tuesday conclude a week-long nationwide campaign which was aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge among Rwandans on the organisation’s work.
The Rwanda’s Space Week community outreach campaign, which kicked off on September 19, ahead of the conference which will be part of the forthcoming World Space Week, was aimed at making Rwandans understand the mandate and ambitions of one of Rwanda’s newest institutions.
The World Space is celebrated annually from 4th to 10th October and holds global significance in the realm of space exploration and encourages international cooperation. The Space Week coincides with the anniversaries of the launch of Sputnik 1 and the entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty.
A team from RSA, led by Col. Francis Ngabo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has been moving from province to province, sensitizing Rwandans and stakeholders on Rwanda’s space vision and the benefits that will come from Rwanda venturing into the space economy.
Established in 2020, RSA has a mandate of promoting and developing space technologies for socio- economic development, with the contribution of all stakeholders and it was inline with that mission that the awareness campaign was conducted in a bid to reach out to the broader Rwandan population.
RSA’s mission cannot be achieved without the contribution of all players, including all citizens and the campaign which is reaching all four provinces from September19, starting in Musanze, Northern Province, with the penultimate leg scheduled today Tuesday, September 26, in the City of Kigali and the closing session in Eastern Province tomorrow, Wednesday.
The countrywide awareness campaign was aimed at making Rwandans understand all about the space economy, a whole new industry Rwanda is looking to tap into the huge opportunities it offers.
ahead of the two days’ conference which will take place in Kigali from October 9 to 10 2023, at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC).
The two-day conference on the other hand will convene in Kigali, from October 9 to 10, 2023, bringing together a diverse array of participants, including government officials, industry leaders, young innovators, students, and the general public.
The conference will be an opportunity for RSA to showcase and celebrate the advancements in space technology that contribute to social and economic progress. The agency also seeks to promote networking opportunities and foster entrepreneurial prospects within Rwanda.
A relatively new industry
The nationwide initiative is seen as a significant step in Rwanda’s journey towards leveraging the potential of space technologies to boost sustainable development.
widespread awareness about the government’s dedicated efforts to leverage space-based technologies and tools for the betterment of various sectors critical to the nation’s socio-economic progress, including agriculture, urban development, infrastructure, and healthcare.
In a recent interview with CNBC Africa, Joseph Abakunda, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), highlighted Rwanda’s ambitions to tap into the space economy, which globally is valued at $469 billion but Africa contributes a minute $19 billion, emphasizing the different initiatives the government is undertaking.
“We actually see this as an opportunity because like you already know whether it’s from a supply chain angle, whether its mining, the inputs that go into these industries, Africa does have value that it can add,” he says, adding that Rwanda is looking to increase its participation in the space economy, where even a contribution of 3 percent can be tremendous.
“So we’re really hopeful that over the next decade, we will see participation jump up perhaps five times, that is about three percent. This is something Rwanda really believes we could tap into,” he pointed out.
With the heavy investment required, Abakunda pointed out that space projects are relatively on the high end and take a while to mature, given how capital intensive they are, but it all starts with a vision and that is what Rwanda is doing at the moment -investing in the initial establishment phases.
Abakunda said that over the past two years, efforts have been focused towards identifying and training talent in terms of specialization, while a national geospatial data hub was established and has been key in generating data and analytics which inform policy and decision making, especially within government agencies -something he said has improved efficiency.
The next phase he said involved building applications and products that add value and insights to the policymakers to make date-driven decisions. Among other things, he said the geospatial data hub is already playing a key role in generating data for different areas such as land use and management, mining, disaster management and prediction and many other areas that heavily rely on data.
An example he gave was through utilizing satellite imagery to map out and monitor illegal mining activities as well as other other initiatives all of which help the government to act accordingly, based on what is observed.
RSA is increasingly collaborating with government agencies and organisations with a collective goal of harnessing the importance of data generated from space technologies to inform policy and decision-making processes for sustainable development.