Preparing itself for monitoring the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Director-General of Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), Patrick Nyirishema, feels that satellite communication can play a significant role in facilitating the implementation of SDGs.
“African countries acknowledge ICT as a pillar for socio-economic growth. And, satellites play a key role in connecting Africa to the rest of the World,” Nyirishema said.
He added, “Definitely, satellite is very important particularly for SDGs, we need to have the means to link various parts of work, to monitor targets, to collect required data from across the continents, analyse it and help to inform policy and regulation and all development interventions.”
Nyirishema was speaking at the opening of a week-long regional workshop on satellite regulations, in Kigali, yesterday.
The workshop, which has attracted delegates from African countries including ICT regulators, and representatives of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), aims at raising awareness about satellite regulatory issues.
“This workshop is very important not just for Rwanda but for the East African region and the continent in general because satellite is a critical and important technology for communications. Africa is a large continent and a very big part of Africa relies on satellite to be connected to the rest of the world, whether it’s for TV, Internet or communication in general,” said Nyirishema.
According to Nyirishema, the cost of launching satellite has gone down in the recent past and what would stop the country from building and launching its first satellite in the orbit is not just the skilled manpower and resources but also other processes including regulatory matters —which are to be partly addressed in this workshop.
“We (Rwanda) are already looking at getting involved with CubeSat and Microsatellites. This is a trend, we have seen some countries do that and we are exploring that, we are taking steps towards that. But that leads to a bigger objective, which we hope that, as continent, we can organise ourselves to launch even bigger satellites and build a knowhow to do that,” he said.
“Africa and Rwanda, to be specific, use satellite. But what we are asking ourselves most is why African counties have not managed to launch satellites.”
“We have realised that all the cost of being able to launch a satellite is going down. It’s not about the knowledge and resources but also it is about the process for the country to be able to successfully launch the satellite.”
Nyirishema added that a time when Africa is trying to claim its position in space, it is good to have ITU experts come here to train African experts to have a complete understanding of what is required to successfully launch a satellite from a process standpoint.
He said, there are a few countries that have already launched their satellites.
“We are looking at getting more countries or regional blocs or the continent working together to also get into the space-faring nations and to build own satellites.”