Opinion

The Rwandan Satellite Launch; What It Spells For Nigeria

Rwandan satellite - cfamedia

The memories of the Rwandan 1994 genocide, still lingers in the mind of the world; a memory, although, over 25 years, is still fresh, as ever.

The east African nation suffered an ethnic cleansing that almost wiped out the Tutsi minority tribe of the country.

Rwanda has grown out of this predicament and has shied away, in contrast, from what could have been an irrecoverable loss; a pointer to its ability to break into the world of economic development and technological innovation.

Against all odds in 2019, Rwanda found itself among the best 10 countries that foreign investors could consider and not just that, the country announced in 2017, it would launch its first ever satellite to be amongst the ranks of few African countries, (not more than 10 countries), that have done so.

February, 2019, the country fulfilled its long-term space program, when it launched its first satellite into space.

The beauty of the Rwandan satellite launch is the impact it poses to the country’s educational system. All remote schools would get an automatic connection to the internet!

Many schools in the rural, or, remote parts of Rwanda, lacks motor-able road networks and sufficient electricity; a result which has seen those parts experiencing difficulty in acquiring internet connectivity.

In a swift initiative to address this challenge, the Rwandan government and a UK-based company, OneWeb, launched the first ever Rwandan satellite that will connect remote schools, to the internet.

The Rwandan satellite is named ‘Icyerekezo’, which represents the commitment of the country in building local capacity, to serve the space industry and to inspire young Rwandans, for the inevitable takeover of technological innovation across the globe.

The Rwandan Ministry of Information Telecommunication Technology and Innovation, stressed the country’s choice, to commit investment in space technologies, as it is a broader mission to bridge the digital divide, by providing equal digital opportunities, to rural and remote communities.

It should, also, be noted that, the satellite was “christened” by Nkombo students, from the rural remote schools and according to them, this depicts their commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, (STEM).

The remote community will also have access to access Government online services and provide access to global educational content, to students and educators.

Nigeria, on the other hand launched its National Space and Research Development Agency, (NASRDA), in August, 2001, with a primary objective of establishing a fundamental policy, for the development of Space, Science and Technology.

The agency also laid out its scope, which includes:

  • A understanding of how the universe works and its impact on the world
  • Understanding and management of our environmental and natural resources
  • Understanding weather science, to facilitate effective environmental management
  • Communication and IT, to provide reliable telecommunications services
  • Defence and security

Clearly, from the scope stated above, Nigeria Space Agency did not set out to offer internet connectivity services to remote schools, just like Rwanda has done, nevertheless, we can still ask questions from these scope.

Nigeria has, so far, launched 5 satellites into space, ( NigeriaSat-1, NigeriaSat-2, NigeriaSat-x, NigeriaComSat & NigeriaComSat1R)

NigeriaSat-1, the first that was launched into space in 2003, had its purpose, which includes:

  • Desertification control in the north
  • Demographic planning
  • Meningitis detection
  • Conflict resolution and border dispute
  • Enhancing the technology needed, to bring distance learning education, to all parts of Nigeria

It appears that, the country has not made any significant progress from its 2003 objective, even, down to the one that concerns education.

If the Nigerian government was true to its space technology program, we should not be asking too many questions on issues surrounding conflict resolution, security challenges and access to education.

Nigeria is such a vast expanse of land mass that, satellites can ultimately assist us to deliver unhindered services to its teeming population, in various fields, based on the scopes stated.

If Rwanda can set to leverage technology in implementing such processes, what do we say about Nigeria?

We should not just jump into the fray of shooting satellites into space, just for the fun of it, but do so, with all sense of urgency, at addressing critical issues, like access to affordable internet for education, as was done in Rwanda and many other critical issues affecting us, as a nation.


Featured Image: allafrica


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