By Nyambega Gisesa
Kenya is in the final stages of establishing a space centre, the equivalent of National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) agency, a project that will propel Kenya to the elite club of a few countries in the world that own earth observation satellites.
The space centre that is projected to cost to the tune of Sh10 billion for a constellation of earth observation satellites is expected to boost the country’s security as well as provide solutions in the agriculture, education and medical sectors.
Experts, military and government officials who are spearheading the National Space Policy, Strategy and Space Agency Order have told the Standard that proposals on establishment of a Space centre will be included in the cabinet docket before the end of June.
The project is being spearheaded by the Office of the Deputy President and Ministry of Defence with Dr John Kimani (the lead Scientist at the Ministry of Defence), Prof Paul Baki and Prof Hunja Waithaka as the lead scientists.
“This is a major breakthrough for the country in our efforts to ensure that we become a country with a space centre,” Dr John Kimani, the lead Scientist at the Ministry of Defence said.
If established, the centre will end over three decades wait for a national space policy and strategy since the country opened discussions of establishing a Space Centre in the year 1983. It will also have Kenya transition from a passive user of space and space technologies to a contributor to the development of space technology. According to scientists, the country is strategically located at a point where it will exhaust the space project for massive economic growth and creation of jobs.
“Kenya’s strategic outer space includes the geographic location along the equator and bordering the Indian Ocean to its East that facilitates ease of landing of space crafts, tracking of space crafts in space, and ease of access to equatorial orbits, and in particular the geostationary orbit,” the Policy order reads.
Lilian Abishai, a senior Counsel at the Office of the Attorney General, said that all the necessary legal instruments are being prepared so that the space centre will conform to both local laws and international conventions and treaties.
“An Order has been established through which the Space Agency will succeed the National Space Secretariat that is currently under the Ministry of Defence, “she said.
Kenya is developing a space centre in its efforts to develop viable home grown space industry and enhance coordination of space related activities by establishing linkages among government agencies and institutions, industry and researchers.