A satellite built by three Rwandan engineers and a
team of Japanese at Tokyo University, Japan will be
launched into orbit next month.
Known as RWASAT-1 in technical terms, the
satellite was launched to the International Space
Station on September 24.
This was revealed on Tuesday at a joint press
conference between the Rwanda Utility and
Regulatory Authority (RURA), the Ministry of ICT &
Innovation, and the Japanese Embassy.
Patrick Nyirishema, RURA Director-General, said they
were “looking at November 18” for the launch into
The rocket carrying the first satellite was launched
from the Tanegashima Space Centre by the
Japanese Aerospace and Exploration Agency
According to Takayoshi Fukuyo, one of the
developers, the HTV-8 “Koutonori 8”, a cargo ship
which stores RWASAT-1 was captured by the
robotic arm of the International Space Station on
RWASAT-1 is a mini satellite, commonly as
CubeSats. These are tiny satellites that are
deployed into low earth orbit from where they can
send information to ground stations.
Paula Ingabire, the Minister for ICT and Innovation
said that since Rwanda entered into a partnership
with Tokyo University, a number of Rwandans have
“Since we signed the agreement with the University
of Tokyo, it has opened doors to Rwandan
engineers to use their laboratories for assembly,
integration, and testing of RWASAT-1,” she noted.
One year down the road, about 50 Rwandan
engineers have been trained in space technologies.
“Rwanda is new on this journey of lean space
technology, but we chose to build capacities on
this initial journey,” Nyirishema noted.
A model of the satellite prototype was first
displayed last year by the Japan-Rwanda team of
experts during the 2018 Transform Africa Summit in
Less than 10 African countries have managed to
launch satellites. However, as the devices get
smaller and more affordable, more African countries
are planning to take advantage of data from the
The country is hoping to reap significant benefits
from having its own satellite into space and there
are endless possibilities and applications.
“In the past, satellite technology was in bulk
satellites that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
We are now going into a time where it’s possible to
build low-cost satellites that can achieve many
Officials say having a satellite, which is part of the
bigger National Space Programme, will equally
bring down the cost of data.
In the initial stages, the country wants to leverage
the satellite to promote precision agriculture.
From the orbit, RWASAT-1 will be sending
information to ground stations, which Agriculture
institutions will utilize to make informed decisions
in the prediction of crop yields as well as soil
RWASAT-1 has antennas alongside two multi-
spectral cameras on board which will be
communicating with deployed ground sensors in
In February this year, OneWeb, a UK based
company, worked with Rwanda to unveil a satellite
that provides broadband internet to schools in
At exactly 23h37 local time on February 27,
2019, all eye were on the national television of
Rwanda as their government and
telecommunication giant, One Web launched their
first ever Satellite that will connect remote
schools to the internet.
The global Satellite named ‘Icyerekezo’ is a
symbol of Rwanda’s commitment to build the
local space industry, build local capacity, inspire
the younger generation and prepare to usher
Rwanda into a hyper-connected future, Rwanda’s
Ministry of Information Telecommunication
Technology and Innovation said in a statement.