Cabinet has approved the construction of a satellite station in the country, a move that experts say will trigger Uganda’s frontiers into space technology and buttress security and defence mechanisms.
According to the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Judith Nabakooba, the construction of the satellite station will also amplify the country’s role in outer space.
“Cabinet, sitting on Monday, approved the proposal to build a satellite station in Uganda, with the main objective of developing Uganda’s space capabilities in a well-coordinated and harmonised manner,” she said Wednesday, March 24, in a statement, noting that the station will “help the country to leverage space science and technology for sustainable development”.
Improved application of space science and technology, Nabakooba added, will also propel the country’s social, economic, political and environmental needs.
Beeﬁng up the country’s defence and security mechanisms is the other key beneﬁt that the Government says will accrue from the satellite station.
“This will help the country to leverage space science and technology for sustainable development, with beneﬁts and expected outcomes, such as improved defence and security through improved capabilities for cross-border movement monitoring and surveillance for the country,” she said.
The satellite station, Nabakooba added, will also “increase evidence-based technology information for planning and decision making; support research for industrial development of the country; improve national earth observation and remote sensing centres for the country and increase private sector investment in space science, technology research and innovation”.
By investing in satellite technology, the Government says the foreign investment will also be attracted.
“This will, in the end, enhance foreign direct investment and collaborations, which will, in turn, attract or spur development of new technologies in the country,” Nabakooba said, rooting for an increase in human resource capacity to facilitate the development of space technology in the country.
Commenting on the proposal to build a satellite station, Buikwe South MP David Ronnie Mutebi, who is also the deputy chairperson of the parliamentary committee on science, innovation and technology, said although the Mpoma Satellite Station in Mukono district was set up for purely communication purposes, the construction of a new satellite station will augment delivery of technology-based services in the country.
“The Mpoma station was partially done to enhance communication. However, the new satellite station will propel service delivery in technology and also boost our capacity in outer space as a country,” Mutebi said.
Other experts in space technology told New Vision that for proper implementation of the satellite station project, Uganda needs to partner with other countries that have already made signiﬁcant research in outer space technology.
“We have pushed for this since 2017 and we hope that this time round, the Government will not stop at talking. It should be implemented even if it means borrowing ideas from neighbouring East African and African countries that have set up satellites in recent years,” a space science and astrophysics expert told New Vision.
South Africa, Egypt, NIgeria, Morocco and Rwanda are some of the African countries that have successfully ventured into outer space technology, with satellite station already erected.