Ethiopia Aims To Boost Its Economy With Satellite Launch

Ethiopia plans to join an exclusive club of African nations next year: those who have their own national satellites.

The head of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) said that the country plans to launch its very first satellite in September 2019 with China's assistance and backing. The reason this satellite is being put in place is in part to track environmental concerns.

The Director General of the institute, Solomon Belay Tessema explained that the primary mission of this space satellite is to observe climate change and assess environmental matters such as mining activities, proper application of water resources, and other activities relevant to environmental purposes.
But - among a plethora of other possible uses – the satellite would also support efforts to adjust to climate change, including crop insurance initiative for small-scale farmers.
Better weather data, for example, would allow insurance firms to accurately assess when triggers for payments - such as a drought that kills crops and fodder - have been met, to ensure that payments get to farmers and herders faster when they need them.

The Head of the Micro-Insurance Department at Oromia Insurance Company (OIC), based in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa, Melkachew Temsgen said that his firm has an increasing number of customers among the farmers and pastoralists who make up over 80 percent of Ethiopia's population which is estimated to be 105 million population.
Temsgen added that the idea of Ethiopia having its own satellite was once unthinkable, but it could now be helpful in analysing weather conditions, especially in remote areas - if the cost of better data was low enough.

Temsgen also declared that currently, Ethiopia was relying on a U.S.-owned satellite to get their weather information with low resolution free of cost and that if they want a higher resolution they were required to pay for it, which wouldn't be cost effective. It would be better for Ethiopia to own its satellite.

The ability to pay out insurance claims based on satellite data, rather than relying on expensive on-site field assessments, has decreased the cost of livestock and crop insurance, making it more affordable for more people.

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