The International University of East Africa (IUEA) is planning to build Uganda’s first educational satellite called IUEA Uganda Satellite One (IUEA UGA-SAT 1).
The IUEA has applied to the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) for permission to build the satellite. If granted, IUEA will be the first university in Uganda, and one in a handful of countries on the continent that will launch an educational satellite.
The satellite project is in line with Uganda’s history of providing academic excellence and with the use of technology to advance national economic development.
The IUEA Vice-Chancellor Dr Emeka Akaezuwa says, “The satellite project will involve the combined scientific, engineering and practical dexterity of IUEA’s faculty of science, faculty of engineering, the department of environmental science and IUEA’s soon to be an operational department of agriculture.”
He adds, “Modern-day education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution mentality mandates an inter-disciplinary approach to problem-solving and this is precisely what university education should provide.”
The state minister for higher education says, “I’m aware of the satellite licence request. This is a great step to the development of higher education in the country.”
Dr Muyingo says that Uganda is blessed with a vast amount of arable land. He adds that however, the country cannot realize the full potential that could accrue from this vast resource because of low-tech techniques and crop failure.
He explains that the reasons for crop failure range from “climate change, incurable crop diseases, a fast-growing population, land fragmentation, and depleted soils among others. Due to the onset of climate change some parts of the country experience abnormally long droughts resulting in disastrous crop failure and death of farmed animals while other parts experience flooding and ruined crops.
He explains, “To address the situation, plans to design and build a Cube Satellite that will address the climate change and incurable crop diseases aspects of the problem by analyzing and forecasting weather patterns for Uganda’s agricultural sector.”
Emeka says that the Satellite is part of the big plan for the university to work with Government in the promotion of establishing the teaching of space science technology in the country.
This comes at a time that the Government has teamed up with public and private universities, to start teaching space science technology in the country.
“Consultations with the selected universities offering space science and technology or related courses have started, with a plan to open up a national space centre for Uganda,” according to Dr James Kasigwa, the Director of Science, Technology, Innovation Regulation and Bio-safety, at the science, technology and innovations ministry.
He says the consultations are aimed at gathering relevant information on the teaching, research and innovation; which will guide the development of the space programme in the country.
Space technology is a technology developed by space science or the aerospace industry for use in spaceflight, satellites, or space exploration. Dr Kasigwa explains that space technology includes spacecraft, satellites, space stations, and support infrastructure, equipment, and procedures.
The ministry is working with a number of universities including International University of East Africa, Makerere University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Busitema University and Muni University among others.
Kasigwa says it’s a two-fold why government through ministry is engaging Universities in the development of air space technology in Uganda. “First of all, for any programme to succeed you must have the human capacity developed and the universities are the best in doing this. Secondly, the ability to undertake the necessary research by these Universities is very crucial. Universities also have the infrastructure which we can leverage on as government to ensure the success of the programme.”
Kasigwa explained, “Universities will be tasked to start academic programmes which will support the space industry, to avoid depending on expatriates. We shall build our local capacity to ensure that the space programme works,” Kasigwa said.
He observed that the development of space science is fast advancing internationally, adding that the country needs this technology to help in special areas like frontier border security monitoring.
He stressed that we need to go to space to help address most of the problems on Earth. “Satellites have played an enormous role in improving the state of the world,” he noted.
President Yoweri Museveni early this year, worked out a deal where Uganda will be working with the Russian Government, for the country to start air space technology development.
Museveni met a five-man delegation from the Russian-Uganda Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Science and Technical Cooperation, and he advised that efforts be put on research development in areas of mineral resources, environment, agriculture and land use. The other areas he wants to focus on, are in the national parks as well as developing local human capital and monitoring utility networks among others.
The President observed that the development of space science is fast advancing; saying the country needs this technology to help in other special areas like frontier border security monitoring.
By Conan Businge