Kenya yesterday send to space its first satellite in an event that took place in Japan and was witnessed by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, among other dignitaries.
The satellite was developed by scientists from University of Nairobi, Sapienza University (Italy) and Japenese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a speech read on his behalf by Ms Mohamed, lauded those who were involved in the development of the satellite.
“I am encouraged by this venture by scientists from Kenya. It is a big inspiration journey for Kenyans into study of space science technology for the development of our economy,” said President Kenyatta.
He lauded United Nations office for outer space affairs and the Japanese government for the inspirational journey.
Ms Mohamed, on the other hand, said the satellite will enable the government to get accurate information on agriculture and environment sectors, among others, for necessary interventions.
“We will now start building two or three other satellites that will be deployed across the country,” she said.
She added the technology is the first one in East and Central Africa and will be inspiration to young scientists.
At the University of Nairobi’s main campus, Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau and Deputy Vice-chancellor Isaac Mbeche led students and lecturers in witnessing the launch.
Prof Mbeche asked development partners to consider giving the institution Sh500 million so that they can develop five more satellites.
Mr Kamau said Kenya and Japan will continue to cooperate for mutual benefit of their populations.
Acting Japanese ambassador Yoshihiro Katayama said it was a proud moment to launch the satellite, noting that it shows that there are no boundaries in friendship between the two nations.
“Japan will continue to support Kenya in whichever way,” said Mr Katayama.
The Sh100 million satellite will be used in collecting data on climate change, wildlife mapping, earth mapping, weather forecast, coastline monitoring, transport and logistics.
In 2016, UON became the first institution to benefit from a joint project between the United Nations and JAXA, which seeks to support educational institutions from developing countries to manufacture their own satellites.
The project dubbed KIBOCUBE was started in September 2015.
Japan provided the funding and a platform for construction of the satellite.