ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia Minister of Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria on Sunday commended Chinese partnership in developing Ethiopia's space science sector.
Speaking to Xinhua, Mekuria said the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) has partnered with its Chinese counterpart to train Ethiopian space engineers as well as to help launch Ethiopia's first space satellite.
"Ethiopia and China have strong multifaceted ties. As a showcase of these ties, Ethiopia's first space satellite will be launched from China on Dec. 20.
"Already, China has helped train 20 Ethiopian space engineers both in China and at home using experienced Chinese personnel. These Ethiopian engineers are expected to play a key part in operating Ethiopia's first space satellite," Mekuria told Xinhua.
The space satellite, which is set to be launched from China, will have its command and control center in Ethiopia at the Entoto space observatory facility -- East Africa's only space observatory facility located on the 3,200-metre hills of Entoto on the outskirt of the capital Addis Ababa.
Mekuria also said a large Ethiopian delegation composed of senior Ethiopian government officials and media personalities will be in China to attend the launch of Ethiopia's first space satellite.
"This new Chinese-backed satellite will help Ethiopia save much-needed foreign currency that it currently spends to get information from foreign-owned satellites," Mekuria told Xinhua.
Once operational the satellite is expected to save Ethiopia around 350 million birr (about 11 million U.S. dollars) annually it currently spends to receive information from satellites owned by other countries.
Mekuria further said the space satellite named ETRSS-1 will be used for a range of activities including for agricultural transformation, forest resource monitoring, weather forecast, mining potential assessment, as well as infrastructure development and monitoring.