Ghana’s SSTC heralds space science in West Africa

Ghana opened a Space Science and technology Centre (SSTC) last week Wednesday in a move aimed at tapping into potentials of science and technology to increase the country’s socio-economic development

The centre is expected to promote the coordination and implementation of projects and programmes in areas including remote sensing and geographic information systems, meteorology, astronomy and astrophysics, communication as well as human capacity development.

This includes seismic and earthquakes monitoring, weather forecasting and climate change, natural resource management, management of tele-health facilities, aviation, agriculture and national security.

The centre will also aim to establish a hub of excellence in space science and technology, to promote teaching, learning and the commercial application of space research, for the economic transformation of Ghana and the entire west African countries.

The Ghanian government acquired the Vodafone’s satellite Earth Station at Kuntunse, about 20km west of the capital. This followed a move by Vodafone Ghana, a subsidiary of Vodafone UK, last week Wednesday to hand over the facility to the government last week Wednesday.

The redundant Vodafone earth satellite station, with a 32-meter antenna, is now set for conversion into a telescope for research and development in the field of astronomy.

Ghana’s Minister for Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) Sherry Ayittey said the vision was to uncover and exploit the capabilities of space science and technology for national socio-economic and technological development through education and cutting edge research.

The minister added that the centre would co-ordinate the implementation of national space science and technology programs in the four main focal areas of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems ( GIS), communication, Meteorology as well as Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“The journey to space science and technology development is long and there is no short cut to arrive at the destination,” Ayittey warned.

The establishment of GAEC, which now hosts the SSTC, was at the outset aimed at exploiting the peaceful applications of nuclear energy for national development.

Ghana in 1963 established the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) to implement the Ghana Nuclear Reactor Project (GNRP) — initiated in 1961 — as the foundation for the introduction of nuclear science and technology.

The decision to join the space industry was consummated when Ghana joined the consortium of 11 African countries, with South Africa as a leader, for a US$ 2 billion space square kilometer arrays (SKA) radio telescope, considered to be the largest in the world.

SSTC received support from South African Department of Science and Technology, through the African Kilometer Array Project, to establish the Ghana Radio Astronomy Project, which would collect data through its telescope at the Kuntunse station as part of the VLBI network of antennas of the world.

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