On the 7th of November 2022 , Uganda made history by claiming its first piece of real estate in space by launching the PPearlAfricaSat-1. This move while being very remarkable for our nation has been greeted with alot of cynicism by a number of e-literates who I choose to respectfully refer to as ignorant in space and technology matters.
In a two part article, I am going to share with you more about this satellite and why we need to have it. Let us start with the basics of Satellite Technology.
What is a Satellite?
A satellite is a moon, planet or machine that orbits a planet or star. For example, Earth is a satellite because it orbits the sun. Likewise, the moon is a satellite because it orbits Earth.
Usually, the word “satellite” refers to a machine that is launched into space and moves around Earth or another body in space.
Importance of Satellites
They play a key role in our day to day lives and there is so much we lately take for granted that is attributed to their presence. They are very useful when it comes to earth observation, communication, navigation and science.
Through the data they collect, satellites support;
- National Economies
- Manage emergency situations
- Monitor the Environment
- Protect public health
- Ensure public safety and national defence
How do they help us in our day to day lives?
Satellite data for farming can help farmers overcome challenges that impact upon their yields. Land yields in Uganda are some of the lowest around the world despite our very well endowed soils. Why is this the case? Should we only attribute it to poor/unpredictable rains? Isn’t there a way we can utilise satellite data to have a micro understanding of our farmlands?
We could use the satellite for getting a unique perspective of our famlands through moisture detection, insect infestations, plant health, drainage network, flooding and droughts.
As a nation we lack basic and accurate crop inventory information like acreage of various crops nationwide, the condition of the crops as well as anticipated production outcomes.
All this information and much more can be availed to the various stakeholders hence helping them make better decisions regarding their agribusiness initiatives. It helps a farmer in production and a value addition processor in sourcing of raw material.
Satellites can help improve on the already struggling health situation in Uganda.
They can monitor the environment and support the development of information on risk factors associated with environmentally linked infectious diseases, water contamination as well as chronic conditions.
They can identify and monitor risk locations for mosquito and tick-borne diseases.
We currently have an Ebola breakout in the country and satellite data can help guide ground interventions. Field epidemiologists and medical staff can use this data to locate infrastructure to support the deployment of services such as temporary hospitals, or mobile laboratories to support the investigation and diagnosis of diseases as well as database development. They also help us react and timely respond to pandemics.
E-Health, Telehealth and Telemedicine applications are all beneficiaries of satellite technology.
Today alone, this is how a satellite is helping you without your knowledge;
- Using that Safe Boda App: If you hail a boda boda (bike) service that uses an app, your position is traced through the Global Position System that is heavily reliant on satellites for accuracy.
- Eating that Weetabix cereal in the morning is a result of a farmer who used satellite technology to determine the best time to irrigate the gardens as well as harvest time.
- The internet service you use as one of its infrastructure relies on satellites.
- The weather update you got on your phone in the morning prior to leaving home relies on satellite activity.
- The Google Pin that you got showing the venue of the meeting you have is a result of satellite activity.
Safety. You may be moving around carelessly taking so much for granted but through satellite activity, alot is done to monitor various national security installations and public resources.
Now that we are in the know of how Satellites are of importance, in the next article, I shall dwell on the Ugandan Satellite that was launched barely a week ago and is ready for action.
- Is it our Government behind it?
- Did Ugandans design it?
- Will it be worth the money spent?
and more, based on your feedback to this article.
Do you now realise why having a satellite is likely to help Uganda as a nation ?
Do you believe that Uganda is ready to participate in the space age?
See you in Part 2.
Agribusiness & Technology Consultant
Twitter – @wirejames