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Rwanda Turns to 400 Billion USD Space Industry

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Rwanda Turns to 400 Billion USD Space Industry

Rwanda capitalizes on the burgeoning interest of global investors in the space sector, aiming to position itself as the gateway to space trade on the African continent. The cultivation of partnerships and collaborations between the RSA and international allies promises to yield substantial benefits, not only for Rwanda but also for the entire region and our international partners.

Rwanda’s first steps into the space industry

Establishment of the Rwanda Space Agency

The establishment of the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) represents a major step forward in Rwanda’s commitment to space. The strategy for this first foray into space was approved by the Rwandan government in May 2020 and ratified by the Chamber of Deputies on March 9, 2021.

The agency, which reports directly to the President of the Republic, is tasked with coordinating activities in the space sector and advising the government on space policy. It will become operational in July 2020, marking a new phase in the country’s space ambitions.

Launch of Rwanda’s first satellite

In November 2019, Rwanda launched its first satellite, RwaSat-1. This CubeSat, equipped with antennas and two cameras, was placed in orbit from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana using a Russian Soyuz rocket. In February 2019, another satellite, Icyerekezo, built in Toulouse as part of a collaboration with the OneWeb program, was sent into space.

This initiative marks the beginning of the use of satellites dedicated to internet connectivity. These two Rwandan space projects carried out with the support of national engineering teams and international partners, reflect Rwanda’s ambition to become a major player in the African space industry.

Rwanda, a major player in Africa’s space industry

Rwanda Space Agency

An event was recently held in Rwanda to discuss the 400 billion USD space industry. The meeting brought together experts, heads of state and researchers, and was organized by the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA), which was established in 2021.

The agency’s main goal is to develop geospatial technologies to stimulate the country’s economic growth. The event was marked by the presence of the Minister of Technology and Innovation, H.E.M Paula Ingabire Musoni. In addition to the content of the meeting, Rwanda emphasized the need to support international and national partnerships, highlighting the critical role of the private sector.

Leveraging space technologies for development

Data show that the total capital of the global space industry currently stands at 400 billion USD, with projections that it could reach 1,000 billion USD by 2030. However, Africa is still lagging, accounting for only 5 % of this total.

To maximize opportunities in this sector, young African entrepreneurs can explore value chains. It is then up to the RSA to create an environment conducive to investment. In this sense, the recent event was a success, providing a platform to discuss space observation, remote sensing strategies, space technology, and satellites.

Rwanda Space Program : Strategic positioning

Rwanda’s geographical location near the equator presents ideal opportunities for international partners to collaborate with the RSA in deploying gateways or satellite ground stations on Rwandan soil.

Capacity development in Rwanda creates numerous opportunities for a burgeoning space economy. That is evidenced by the Rwandan programs that have already been implemented and those that have yet to come.

Rwanda satellite program : Enhancing soil exploitation

  • The inaugural RwaSat-1 satellite provides images to the Ministry of Agriculture. These data aid in essential soil moisture analysis, land use surveys based on satellite data, and crop yield estimates.
  • Rwanda engages in deploying high-speed Internet from space through the second satellite project, affectionately nicknamed Icyerekezo (« Vision » in Kinyarwanda). This satellite delivers Internet connectivity to students on the island of Nkombo in Lake Kivu.

Rwanda’s space industry : Ambitious projects on the rise

  • The National Geospatial Data Hub project is a significant component of this endeavor. This program aims to analyze real-time soil transformations at the borders using aperture synthesis interferometric radar (InSAR).
  • GeoHub will leverage data to inform decision-making in other vital sectors, including agriculture, urban planning, and mining.

Partnership projects in Africa’s space industry

Rwanda has signed several cooperation agreements with partners such as GIZ, Japan, and China, as well as renowned companies such as OneWeb and SpaceX. GIZ representative Norman Schräpel expressed his support for RSA, emphasizing that this collaboration will help improve flood monitoring and risk and disaster management.

RSA also worked with China’s Star Vision Aerospace Limited on a statistical processing program for the WJ-1A satellite. This program resulted in the development of automatically generated artificial intelligence algorithms by a team of six Rwandan students from the University of Rwanda, Carnegie Mellon University Africa, and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, among others.

Impact on Rwanda’s ecosystem by the space agency

Despite being in its nascent stages, the Space Agency Rwanda has spearheaded several groundbreaking projects within the space industry. Rwanda stands as a prime location to foster the expansion of this highly skilled and technology-driven sector, which is evident in the promising strides already made.

Space technology plays a pivotal role in ensuring food security and sustainability economic growth of Rwanda. Leveraging spatial data enables the adoption of modern land management practices, including soil conservation, crop diversification, and pest or disease management. Consequently, agricultural productivity is heightened, leading to enhanced food security.

In conclusion, Rwanda is emerging as a leader in the space industry in Africa and this sector holds immense potential for the country.

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