Egypt Reiterates its Commitment to Leverage Space-based Solutions to Tackle Climate Change in Africa

On 22 October 2022, the Egyptian Space Committee of the Syndicate of Engineers held a conference to discuss the nation’s efforts in developing its space capabilities for tackling climate change and ensuring Egypt’s sustainable development. The conference themed “Space Science and Technology for Climate Actions” brought together key personnel within the space science and technology space to provide a status update on Egypt’s space and satellite development initiatives focused on tackling climate change and success stories from the country’s current space initiatives.

In his keynote address, the Chairman of the Space Committee of the Egyptian Engineers Syndicate and Member of the Supreme Council of the Syndicate, Dr Muhandes Ahmed Faraj, reaffirmed the nation’s plan to launch a new satellite to aid climate change monitoring in Africa. He revealed that the satellite prototype would be displayed at Sharm El-Sheikh to fine-tune the satellite’s mission details and set a launch date.

         Dr Muhandes Ahmed Faraj delivering his keynote speech at the conference. Source: Egyptian Engineers Syndicate

Furthermore, Dr Faraj discussed the African Development satellite Initiative. According to him, the initiative funded by the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ARST) aims to monitor climate changes in Africa, with a specific focus on the impact of desertification and an increase in emissions, to ensure that Africans are prepared for the forecasted climatic conditions in the coming years.

Dr Faraj also noted that “the conference was held to determine the role of satellites in monitoring climate changes and temperature differences, using specialised satellites with sensors capable of providing details of climate change in the coming years. Regarding the specific role of these specialised satellites, they would be able to give early warning of areas under investigation specifically, the wind speed measurement and the proportions of water and the size of the floods in different areas”.

In addition, he pointed out that Egypt will launch another satellite in 2023 dedicated to measuring the proportion of plasma in the upper atmosphere, using specific sensors and high-quality thermal cameras, which would be launched to Mars to perform several tasks, including measuring infrared and violet rays, determining the amount of water on Mars and checking for the possibility of sustaining life on the red planet. He added that one of the reasons why the Space Committee of the General Syndicate of Engineers was inaugurated was to advance research into space science and technology to mitigate the current and forecasted adverse climatic conditions.

                                  Attendees at the conference. Source: Source: Egyptian Engineers Syndicate

He continued, “It was necessary to activate our role within the union in rehabilitating and educating the engineering community and training a crop of young engineers to integrate into the labour market, especially in light of the increasing demand by the concerned authorities for space technology and science engineers.

The Chairman of the committee concluded his keynote speech by stressing that several workshops and educational seminars had been designed in partnership with several experts in the space science and technology field at the General Syndicate of Engineers’ headquarters to ensure that the committee quickly grew into its roles leveraging space-based technologies to mitigate climate change.

During his speech, the Dean of the Faculty of Navigation Sciences and Space Technology at Beni Suef University, Dr Osama Shelbaya, confirmed that the Egyptian Space Agency had developed a comprehensive plan to launch two new satellites, the first of which is the plasma satellite for monitoring climatic characteristics in the upper atmosphere, which has been set for launch in 2023. 

Dr Shelbaya added that the second satellite would be a specialised Earth observation (EO) satellite capable of monitoring climate changes in African countries. He noted that the satellite is currently under development in partnership with a Chinese satellite manufacturer, with the launch date scheduled to be announced later. Similarly, Dr  Shelbaya discussed the African Development Satellite Initiate as a project designed to collect and analyse satellite images and data to influence climate change decisions in African countries.

In his speech, the Head of the Soil Sciences Department at the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS), Prof Alaa Al-Nahry, mentioned that Egypt does not possess a satellite capable of monitoring climate change because of their high cost but welcomes the idea of launching an asset with such capabilities. Furthermore, Prof Al-Nahri explained the benefits of launching satellites dedicated to monitoring climate change, including temperature and precipitation measurement, determining relative humidity and water vapour and identifying the locations of hurricanes over the oceans.

In conclusion, Prof Al-Nahry reiterated that to ensure the success of the project involving the launch of a satellite specialised in monitoring climate change, it is essential to improve the human capital in satellite manufacturing and general operationalisation to ensure that there are enough capable hands to take charge of such projects in the future.