Science & Tech

Zimbabwe closer to launching its own satellite: Murwira

Mozambique, Sudan and Ethiopia are some sub-Saharan nations that recently launched their own space satellites with the assistance of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).

HIGHER and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira has said the refurbishment of the Mazowe Satellite Station will begin soon, adding that Zimbabwe has inched closer to launching its own satellite into space.

Mozambique, Sudan and Ethiopia are some sub-Saharan nations that recently launched their own space satellites with the assistance of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).

Murwira said the addition of infrastructure to the centre would save Zimbabwe millions of dollars it pays other countries for the communication services.

The country pays millions of United States dollars annually to neighbouring countries for foreign satellite services, mainly for television, with information showing MultiChoice, the owner of DSTV, pockets over US$18 million yearly in subscriptions from Zimbabweans.

“We hope that as we start the next quarter, work will have begun.

‘‘The work will be done by staff from our ministry. More than $25 million has been allocated to us for the setting up of infrastructure at the centre in Mazowe,” Professor Murwira said.

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) also pays a French company US$1,2 million annually for radio and television satellite signals, he added.

“Imagine how many people are paying for satellite television countrywide and all those millions in foreign currency we are paying to other countries.

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“Once the country is able to receive satellite information we will no longer be paying all this money,” Prof Murwira said.

BAZ chief executive officer Mr Obert Muganyura said the investment towards Zimbabwe’s own satellite was positive in light of global developments.

“Ideally we should have optical fibre connectivity for distribution of broadcast signals from the studio facilities to each of the transmitter sites located across the country,” he said.

“However, we do not have that optical fibre connectivity hence the reliance on satellite signal distribution.

“US$1,2 million is paid annually to other countries for the distribution of broadcasting signals to the transmission network.

“If Zimbabwe were to launch its own satellite, the costs would fall away and savings would be made in the long term.

“Such a satellite will also not be confined to broadcasting as it can be used for other existing and new applications which currently require leasing at a significant cost to Zimbabwe.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) in 2018, with sights set on harnessing satellite technology and aiding economic growth.

The Sudan Remote Sensing Satellite (SRSS-1), was launched in November from the northern Chinese province of Shanxi.

Ethiopia, with the help of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), launched its first satellite into space in December 2019. The satellite provides data for Ethiopian authorities and research institutions to monitor the environment and study weather patterns for better agricultural planning, early warning for drought, mining activities and forestry management.

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Ethiopia becomes the 41st African satellite in space.

Zimbabwe’s neighbour Mozambique’s National Meteorology Institute (INAM) announced in January this year that it is shifting from the former satellite system to the new one provided by China, which will allow for more accurate predictions on weather forecast, climate change and potential natural disasters.

Also in January this year, SADC countries drafted a satellite sharing policy system would enable African people to have quicker access to information. The policy is hoped to mark an important step for SADC members to enter the space industry.

If you suspect COVID-19 infection or wish to obtain more information on this disease, please call the Ministry of Health and Child Care on toll free hotline number 2019 for assistance.

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