ZINGSA signs MoU with Space Advisory Group

The Zimbabwe National Geo-spatial and Space Agency (Zingsa) has signed an agreement South Africa’s Space Advisory Group to assist the Government arm start operations.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said Government had released $1,6 million for the Zingsa pilot project, and the agreement with the South Africans would give added traction.

“The MoU is a non-financial agreement.

“What Space Advisory Group are bringing is capability because they have satellite manufacturing knowledge and know how to run a space agency,” he said.

Government is also in talks with Geoscan, a Russian space company, for a joint venture in drones manufacturing. Belgian investors are also in talks with the ministry.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently met China Space to discuss the possibility of accessing detailed imagery from Chinese satellites.

Prof Murwira said a letter of intent had been sent to Beijing and an MoU was being finalised.

“We will use the technology in speeding up our land demarcation programme to pave way for the issuance of 99-year leases.

“This can be solved via satellite or drone technology which comes through the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency,” he said.

Another project focuses on “precision agriculture” to boost yields by using satellites to survey soils and determine specific fertiliser requirements.

Zingsa will also accurately map agro-ecological zones, with Prof Murwira indicating the possibility of these shifting was high as a result of climate change.

Two other projects entails quantification of solar and biomass capability, and unmapped mineral reserves; while another will identify malaria-prone areas and other health concerns via satellite.

New technologies will be used to fight animal poaching, and species with dwindling populations will be tagged with satellite collars for tracing.

The Sunday Mail understands that such technology was created a few years ago by the Geography and Environmental Science department at the University of Zimbabwe.

Although Zimbabwe does not presently have capacity to manufacture all the equipment, Prof Murwira said industrial parks being established at state universities would be the hubs of development of such knowledge and products.

Cabinet has classified the industrial hubs as special economic zones.

President Mnangagwa launched Zingsa in July, and the Higher Education Ministry is using “surrogate institutions” like the Research Council of Zimbabwe and universities to birth it operationally.