Ethiopia has moved into full gear with its satellite and space plans. Following an earlier announcement that the country is gearing up to launch its first Earth Observation satellite in Q4 of 2019, Africa News reported that Ethiopia is moving into phase two of its space development programme with the construction of satellite manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing (MAIT) facilities.
The report stated that Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), Dr Solomon Belay, hinted that the Ethiopian government has reached an agreement with French space company, ArianeGroup, to commence the construction of MAIT facilities in Addis Ababa in January 2020 with a completion timeline of 30 months.
Dr Belay did not reveal the terms of the deal with ArianeGroup and the cost of the project.
Space Engineering Research and Development Directorate (SERDD), a division under the ESSTI, which has been designated to lead the management of the MAIT centre and maximising its capacity in developing indigenous satellite systems and components will focus on the “design, development and manufacturing of highly accurate, precise, portable, easily maintainable, replaceable, and automated MAIT equipments that may not only be used for aerospace industry but also other manufacturing industries”.
The other facilities currently under construction is a mechanical and electrical laboratory. The Directorate believes that having these laboratories will aid in the research and development of new technologies in the aerospace field.
So far, in Africa, only South Africa and Algeria have functional AIT facilities. Egypt recently commenced the construction of its AIT centre in collaboration with China. Nigeria is also looking to complete its AIT facilities since it began the project over eight years ago, the report concluded.