|Africa News Digest
Russia May Build a Space Control Center in South Africa
One week after the signing of a space research and technology cooperation agreement by the Presidents of Russia and the Republic of South African, Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian national space agency, said that his agency may build a space control center in Cape Town, according to RIA Novosti Sept. 11.
Well-positioned for Southern Hemispheric control functions, a control center there would serve the future South African space technology complex as well. With Russian help, including training, South Africa plans to station satellites for meteorology and communications in the coming years. The first such mission will be carried out with a Russian rocket at the end of this year. There is also Russian-South African discussion of sending a South African astronaut to the International Space Station later in this decade.
Morocco May Be First in Africa To Build High-Speed Rail
Morocco may become the first African nation to build high-speed rail. Moroccan rail operator ONCF's managing director, Mohamed Rabie Khlie, in an interview with Reuters Sept. 15, said: "Marrakesh to Tangier in two and a half hoursit is as if the country is shrinking.... A high-speed rail network will put us in the rail industry's big league." Khlie was referring to the Moroccan plan to link Tangier in the North to Agadir in the South via Marrakesh, and from Casablanca on the Atlantic to Oujda on the Algerian border.
Khlie pointed out that a tunnel from Europe to Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar is still on course, meaning that trains may one day travel from Marrakesh to Madrid. "A Moroccan-Spanish committee is working very hard on this [tunnel] issue, and it is going very well.... We feel quite a clear willingness on the Spanish side to push things forward," Khlie said.
The trains will travel at up to 300 km per hour (186 miles per hour). The engineering work for the network is expected to begin in the second half of 2007, and is estimated to cost around 25 billion dirhams ($2.87 billion).
While South Africa is now beginning construction of the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link that will connect Pretoria, Johannesburg, and the Johannesburg International Airport, its maximum speed will be only 180 km per hour. There is a plan for subsequent upgrading to 200 km per hour. "High-speed rail" is defined as 200 km per hour and up.