Ethiopia launched its first satellite into space on Friday, as more sub-Saharan African nations strive to develop space programs to advance their development goals and encourage scientific innovation.
A Chinese Long March 4B rocket hoisted the first Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite (ETRSS-1) aloft from the Taiyuan space base in northern China.
The 70-kilogramme (154-pound) satellite was developed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology with the help of 21 Ethiopian scientists, according to the specialist website Africa News.
China covered most of the satellite’s $8 million cost, according to an official involved in Ethiopia’s space programme who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to disclose details of the project.
At the launch event broadcast on state television, Deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen said: “This will be a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity. Space is food, space is job creation, a tool for technology…sovereignty, to reduce poverty, everything for Ethiopian to achieve universal and sustainable development.”
The launch makes Ethiopia the eleventh African country to have a satellite into space. Egypt was the first in 1998.