Rwanda’s Emerging Space Sector And Its Global Contributions

Published 2 months ago
By BrandVoice Partner | Paid Program | Francis Ngabo, CEO Rwanda Space Agency
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Rwanda Space Agency’s Teleport Ground station in Mwulire, Rwamagana in the Eastern Province of Rwanda

The emergence of Rwanda’s space sector promises to anchor the country’s sustainable economic growth and contribute to tackling global environmental challenges, both here on Earth as well as in outer space.

In only three years since the establishment of the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA), remarkable progress has been made in pioneering the development of space-based solutions to enhance national geospatial capabilities, enabling the use of satellite technologies to bridge the broadband gap and contributing globally to the sustainable utilization of space.

At the inaugural Rwanda Space Week in October 2023, Hon. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation, underscored the transformative impact of space technologies on sectors like agriculture, healthcare, communication, and transportation.

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She emphasized the importance of leveraging space technology’s potential to drive societal advancement, stating that “in an era where space technologies are revolutionizing various sectors, it is crucial that we harness the potential of space for the betterment of our society”.

She further highlighted the significance of these efforts and said “our focus now decisively shifts towards thinking about the deployment and scalability of space solutions”.

Additionally, satellite technologies are improving the lives of Rwandans. For example, satellite-based high-speed internet is now granting students and teachers in Rwanda access to educational resources and digital tools with a pilot already underway in 500 schools.

Through established partnerships, the agency is positioning the country as a premier destination for space services, both domestically and in the region. For instance, RSA seeks to address a gap in satellite ground infrastructure with the development of its satellite ground station and teleport – capable of supporting lunar missions. Such critical stations provide sustainable space access and underscore Rwanda’s steadfast commitment to the responsible utilization of outer space – especially now that Rwanda is a member of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

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Furthermore, RSA consistently leverages satellite information to provide policy makers with critical insights to inform data-driven decision making.

For instance, space-derived data has played a critical role in disaster management, helping identify areas prone to floods and landslides enabling citizens to take appropriate measures.

An example of this data-driven approach could be seen in the response to the disasters that struck the northern part of the country in May 2023. Satellite imagery provided critical information about the extent of damage and was instrumental in formulating relocation plans, saving lives and crops in the long-run.

RSA is now working to develop an indicator system capable of streamlining such complex data into actionable insights. This system will facilitate informed decision-making and track the implementation of national goals, such as the strategy for national transformation and Vision 2050 as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Such evidence-based policy-making is already having an impact, supporting significant strides in the agriculture and urbanization sectors as well – both key components of Rwanda’s Vision 2050.

As the world shifts towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly economies, space technology could play a pivotal role. Space technologies and applications developed in Rwanda will be instrumental

in supporting precision agriculture, responsible mining, assessing the extent of deforestation, monitoring water and air quality, and identifying sources of pollution, among other critical tasks.

By harnessing space technologies, Rwanda is positioned to make informed contributions to advance the SDGs and other global objectives, including the critical endeavor of mitigating global warming with the 1.5-degree target firmly in mind at the RSA.

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