Satellite technology to support agriculture improvement in Rwanda

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 17 May 2019 at 09:00

The Government of Japan has handed Rwanda its satellite, ‘RWASAT -1’ made by Tokyo University in partnership with a team of 15 Rwandans.

Rwanda’s satellite will be used in agriculture, a sector employing 70% of the population and contributing 30% of the country’s GDP.

RWASAT-1 project was launched two years ago and will be used to capture images on Rwanda’s surface. The satellite is equipped with a small technology device that can test the quantity of water, warmth, humidity among other climate measurements.

It weighs 3.8 kgs, 30 cm by 10 cm.

Takayoshi Fukuyo, advisor at Japan’s National Space Policy Secretariat handed the satellite to Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire yesterday at Transform Africa Summit 2019.

Gaspard Twagirayezu, Science and Technology Knowledge Transfer Analyst at the National Commission of Science and Technology (NCST) who was in Japan during the construction of the satellite said the target is to have more satellites made in Rwanda.

“Many parts of a satellite can be made in Rwanda but there are some parts involved in testing it that require firms and laboratories not available here in Rwanda. Otherwise, other parts can be made in Rwanda,” he said.

“This is what we are assessing in coming days so that large parts of coming satellites can be made in Rwanda and conduct other tests abroad,” added Twagirayezu.

Based on experience acquired from Japan and his colleagues, Twagirayezu said that Rwandans in will be able to build own satellite starting from scratch.

The satellite will be launched into space in Japan on 400 km altitude.

Takayoshi Fukuyo, advisor at Japan’s National Space Policy Secretariat said that Tokyo University has a partnership with Tumba College of Science and Technology where Rwandans will be trained on monitoring data provided by satellites.

“The idea doesn’t end with making the satellite only. It is crucial to building the capacity of people who can monitor and use this technology,” he revealed.

A team of 15 Rwandans was involved in making RWASAT-1.