Ethiopia sets sights on space program

One of the poorest countries in the world, per capita, is beginning to invest in a space program. But that's not a bad thing.

Africa isn't known as a hub for space agencies, but that isn't holding back Ethiopia from looking to the sky.

The East African country unveiled the first phase of its space exploration program today, part of which includes the largest observatory in East Africa, set to begin formal operation in the coming days. The $3.4 million observatory on the outskirts of the country's mountainous capital city will be funded by Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Mohammed Alamoudi and operated by Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS), AFP reports.

Skeptics might call investment in space exploration a waste of resources for one of the poorest countries, per capita, in the world. But the observatory's director Solomon Belay tells AFP that this line of thinking is off the mark:

"If the economy is strongly linked with science, then we can transform a poor way of agriculture into industrialization and into modern agriculture," Belay said.

Among other plans for the ESSS in the coming years will be a second observatory in the town of Lalibela, which sits more than 13,000 feet above sea level and a satellite to boost telecommunications.

Read more: AFP

Photo: Flickr/nathangibbs

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