Rwanda in collaboration with Japan is on the verge of launching its first telecoms satellite this year. This is expected to take place at the international space station, where the satellite will be launched into orbit, before the ‘Transform Africa’ Summit in Kigali in May 2019.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are also in alliance with the plan. The agreement for this collaboration was signed between Rwanda and Japan in 2018. The model of the satellite prototype was first displayed in May 2018 by the Rwanda team of experts during the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, as 100 Japanese companies exhibited cutting edge satellite technologies.
According to Takayuki Mayishita, ambassador for Japan to Rwanda, this satellite initiative for Rwanda to launch its own telecommunications and long term space programme was first announced in 2017 and was set for 2020 but the country will have it earlier than the scheduled launch year.
Patrick Nyirishema director general Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority said, “We are trying to shorten. Satellite technology will not only build capabilities for our people, but it will also give us the capacity, for instance, to inspect certain activities within the agriculture sector, monitor wetlands as part of environmental conservation efforts, and in smart urban planning.”
Selected Rwanda engineers are being trained at the University of Tokyo, in collaboration with their Japanese counterparts ahead of the launch. This is considered a leap in technology development for Rwanda as this potential is yet untapped within the African continent.