Kenya: Kenya’s cabinet is expected to approve the draft on Space Science Policy in May 2012, as the country takes the first step towards the launch of a satellite that will provide development information for the region.
The policy and the Bill that seek to set up the Space Science Agency have been finalised by an inter-ministerial committee and will be presented to the Cabinet in May after deliberations by the stakeholders to fine tune the two documents.
“The intention is to harness space science to provide development information like resource mapping and disaster management,” said Prof. Shaukat Abdulrazak, Chief Executive of the National Council of Science and Technology.
Eastern and Central Africa (ECA) have lagged behind other regional blocs in the utilisation of space science for civilian benefits. The intention of the Space Science Policy and Space Science Bill 2012 is to have a facility that is dedicated to civilian development issues, a break from the tradition where countries first invest in space technology for military purposes.
Speaking to The East African, Prof Abdulrazak said, “Our focus is East Africa. We foresee a situation where our facility can be used by other member countries to collect development information. What we need to work on is the capacity building and the draft policy recognises this challenge.”
According to John Kyalo Kiema, an associate professor at the Department of Geospatial and Space Technology at the University of Nairobi, an investment of USD 12 million can help one East African country invest in basic un-manned aerial vehicle that would provide up to 95 per cent of the information that a satellite can.
“Countries in East Africa can use their growing ties with more advanced nations like China to learn geospatial technology skills and replicate them here,” he added. “We should see space technology as a tool to collect as much data as possible to be used for development. For instance, mapping of resources using space technology can help Africa to manage its own natural resources and prevent conflicts that are brought about by competition for resources, especially water and grazing land.”
Kenya’s entry into active utilisation of space science will see it join big African economies such as South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria that are at various stages of using the same technology for civilian and military purposes.
Source: The East African