Ethiopia has finally launched its first satellite into space on 20 December 2019. The Ethiopian satellite was launched with the financial assistance of China at a space station in the Asian country.

Having initially announced its satellite plans in 2016, during the 3rd quarter of 2018, Ethiopia announced more details of its intention to launch its first satellite during 2019, with the date pencilled in for September of 2019.

"This will be a foundation for our historic journey to prosperity. The technology is an important even if it's delayed," said Demeke Mekonnen, Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister, at the satellite launch event.

A live screening of the Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite (ETRSS-1) launch was held at the Entoto Observatory and Research Center, north of Addis Ababa.

Benefits for agriculture in Ethiopia

Over the years Ethiopia has been troubled by occasional drought that affects in failed crops, livestock losses, and food shortages. As a result, based on official data from the east African country, every year approximately 5 million people end up in need of food assistance.

Thus, it is hoped that the ETRSS-1 will provide critical information needed to improve and transform agriculture and manage the environment in Ethiopia.

β€œThe satellite, which we now own and operate, will provide us with data on meteorology, soil protection, and early drought warning, which would be vital to the development of the country,” said Ahmedin Mohammed, Ethiopia's Deputy Minister of Innovation and Technology.

China's assistance

The bulk of the costs associated with satellite were covered by China.

It was previously revealed that the satellite's design and development will cost a total of approximately $8 million, with China funding $6 million of that cost. However, to date, the terms of the agreement and financing of the ETRSS-1 by China have not been revealed publicly.

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