Press Release: Japanese and Rwandan stakeholders in the Space Sector create plans for collaboration.

Collaboration aims to leverage Japanese capabilities to advance the space program and accelerate the adoption of space applications.

JAPAN and KIGALI, Rwanda-

The Embassy of Japan (EoJ) to Rwanda and the leading organization for space sector development in Rwanda (RSA) are working together to develop synergies between both countries’ stakeholders in the space sector.

The interest has been generated during a webinar that took place on Friday, September 30th, organized by Rwanda Space Agency and the Embassy of Japan to Rwanda to create a forum of conversation between different stakeholders in the space sector in both countries. The webinar followed by Business to Government meetings to further the discussions with Japanese companies keen to explore the opportunities.

Rwanda and Japan have had long-standing historical ties which have strengthened different industries and now expanding to the growing space sector. In 2018, the two countries signed two MoUs for cooperation in the area of space technologies with a focus on knowledge and technology transfer for the development of small satellites, which led to Rwanda’s first satellite launching, the RWASAT-1 project.

Under this framework, an opportunity has been presented for discussions between Japanese space actors and stakeholders in Rwanda to find areas of partnerships and investments in Rwanda’s space applications including Government agencies and private players as they work to address challenges in the region.

During the webinar last Friday, Professor Shinichi NAKASUKA, Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics School of Engineering, University of Tokyo, who supported the RWASAT-1 project, shared his ideas on potential areas of collaboration in space sector between two countries.

“It is not good to stop the space activities at the point of success of your first CubeSat (RWASAT-1). I would recommend step-by-step growth for Rwanda, including higher level satellite development, leading African nano-satellite constellation program, utilizations of satellite data for social problem solving.” Professor NAKASUKA said.

Japan’s space development program has achieved impressive results in recent years by incorporating both technological abilities and the stock of experience. The promising Rwandan space sector can benefit from the skilled manufacturing, launch vehicles, satellites imagery, and the developed analytics by Japanese space ventures ready to establish partnerships to serve the regional markets.

The webinar was attended by more than 70 Japanese companies who are interested in partnering on the ground with the facilitation of RSA and working with Rwandan institutions with the technology and training as well as satellite data infrastructure they need to leverage data analysis, small satellite manufacturing capabilities and industrial attachments.

The Government of Rwanda is pursuing activities related to the space industry as part of it broader effort to grow and diversity the domestic economy. In 2021, the African space and satellite Industry was valued at USD 19.49 Billion and expected to reach 22.6 Billion USD by 2026 as reported by Space in Africa. Given this considerable economic potential, the Government of Rwanda views the space industry as an important part of a broader economic strategy, and this planned partnership between Rwanda and Japan will be a cornerstone to achievement of RSA’s mission.

RSA was established two years ago with the mandate of spearheading the development of the Rwandan space sector. It is a fully fledged organization with support services that can help advance space projects in Rwanda to help bring about mutual favourable outcomes.

The Japanese stakeholders led by the Embassy of Japan to Rwanda have expressed their interests in working with Rwandan institutions and private sector-led initiatives in the space sector in Rwanda; the RSA will contribute expertise in skills development and on-the-ground support for the partnerships.

The Embassy of Japan and RSA recognize the importance of international collaboration and cooperation to promote the industry for sustainable development. For example, RSA is investing in developing a ground station to provide all needed downlink capacity to sustain the operations of Japanese space operations. Satellite data sharing capabilities can empower government officials, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions.

"I believe that, regardless of public or private sectors, it is always essential for stakeholders to exchange views and interests directly. The organized webinar and the follow up meetings currently taking place are practical steps to revitalize and further develop the existing cooperation between Japan and Rwanda in space sector" said H.E. Mr. Masahiro Imai, Ambassador of Japan in Rwanda.

According to Mr. Joseph ABAKUNDA, Chief Strategy Officer of RSA, the democratization of the space sector coupled with the innovation, research and development have led to the decline in the cost of accessing space. This is a timely partnership and the established network with Japanese space champions will help to unlock more services from space such as satellite broadband, Earth Observation and remote sensing applications. END.

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