Zim launches Space Agency to close tech gap

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Zimbabwe on Tuesday launched a National Space Agency intended to focus on using satellites to advance geo-spatial science, earth observation and satellite communication systems.

The Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) is also expected to enhance agriculture, mineral exploration, wildlife conservation, disease surveillance and infrastructure management and mapping.

Speaking at the launch, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the initiative would motivate the country and serve as a catalyst for competitiveness and growth, as well as being a guiding tool in the industrialisation agenda.

Zimbabwe has been lagging behind regional countries and the world at large in terms of technological development. Although the country is predicated on mining and agriculture, a lot is still to be done in terms of mapping and mineral exploration.

Mnangagwa said the launch was timely also, as it will go a long way in enhancing technical expertise and institutional capacities on sector specific programmes. 

The space agency will thus be used to identify areas where the prevalence of minerals is high.

Satellites

Official data indicates that Zimbabwe is actively mining only 10 out of a possible 60 minerals. The country last carried full-scale exploration prior to independence in 1980.

Exploration data is considered critical towards attracting investors and determining the amount of resources to be committed towards exploiting a mineral.

Another core focus of the space agency will be using satellites to further renewable energy mapping for the country.

The space agency is also expected to contribute in the counting of wildlife population as the country looks for ways of protecting wildlife, a critical component of the tourism industry.

Also speaking at launch, the University of Zimbabwe's Caleb Maguranyanga said the southern African nation had now joined the emerging Space Nations through the establishment of its own Agency.   

He said technological developments had brought the cost of sending a satellite into space from hundreds of millions to tens of thousands of dollars.

"Gone are the days of space being accessible only by agencies backed by budgets of billion dollars," said Maguranyanga.

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