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Russia Active in Africa Nuclear Industry and Space Expansion

June 22, 2020 (EIRNS)—Russia is at the center of two scientific advances in Africa making headlines last week: The launch, later this year, of Tunisia’s first satellite, and the development of a nuclear research facility in Rwanda.

The Rwandan Center of Nuclear Science and Technology—which received the official go-ahead from the country’s Chamber of Deputies on June 15—is a project which was first agreed to at the Russian Conference on Africa, held in Sochi, on Oct. 24, 2019. Some 50 Rwandan nuclear scientists are currently training in Russia, partly because there is no domestic infrastructure to support this. As Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete explained, “If we do not have skills in such areas, it becomes a big problem. That is why we want to build the prerequisite skills, which requires laboratory and trained people.”

One of the first projects on which Rwandan authorities anxiously have their eyes is food preservation by irradiation. Beyond that, the center is additionally expected to develop an integrated nuclear energy perspective for the entire country that will be beneficial to the advancement of several sectors of the economy, including education, sciences, and industry.

In Tunisia, an AP story highlighted the upcoming launch—now set for November—of Challenge ONE, Tunisia’s first satellite, an agreement reached in July 2019 between Tunisian Telnet and Russian SPUTNIX and GK Launch Services. Challenge ONE will be Tunisia’s first satellite, but if all works well, it is quickly expected to be part of a fleet of 30 small craft.

Africa’s space market is now said to be worth more than $7 billion, according to the 2019 African Space Industrial Report, with eight countries now having launched a total of 32 satellites since 1998 and three more launched by regional entities. More than 8,000 people are now employed in the African space industry, and discussion is increasing about the establishment of an African Space Agency—a project first raised in 2010—with five countries having already volunteered to host it.

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