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Partnership With China Could See Egypt Lead Africa’s Satellite Climate Change Studies

File image of a Chinese Long March 2C rocket carrying the Egyptian Horus 2 satellite as it rises from the launch pad at Jiuquan spaceport on March 13, 2023. Image via Xinhua.

China is bearing the bulk of financing Egypt’s Horus Satellite program meant to boost Africa’s fight against climate change.

Last month, Egypt’s space program launched another satellite, Horus-2, to help with monitoring climate change in the country that is increasingly edging towards water scarcity. The launch took place at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China where Horus-1 was launched into the sun-synchronous polar orbit (Chinese) in February 2023.

Egypt has been using satellites to measure land surface changes and topography since the 1970s. The North African nation is working with five African countries on the African Development Satellite Initiative (AfDev-Sat) to study the climate change impacts across Africa.

During the launch of Horus-2, the Egyptian Space Agency CEO, Sherif Sedky, said that the satellite program would enable the country to meet its 2030 sustainable development vision.

He added that the Horus satellites would support the identification of Egypt’s finest crops in various sectors while also improving the use of Egypt’s natural resources. The success of the project would be a boost for the country’s agricultural exports.

Using the satellite technology, Sedky added that information gathered would help in the utilization of agricultural land maximally to increase food self-sufficiency.

As a pioneer in launching satellites in the Arab world, Dr. Sedky added that Egypt is localizing the satellite technology and industry by cooperating with China.

This year, China has planned more than 60 launches which target launching at least 200 spacecraft.

For Africa, early warning systems and multi-hazard warning systems can greatly help in alleviating the effects of drought, according to Levis Kavagi, the ecosystems, and biodiversity, Africa coordinator at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

He adds that proper ecosystems management and innovative agricultural/farming techniques including herd management are key to addressing climate change effects like droughts. From Egypt’s Horus satellite launches, it is evident that it is already embracing technology to better deal with climate change.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? According to the IPCC report (2022), climate change will increase the frequency and magnitude of extreme hydro-climatic events, such as floods and droughts. The consequent impacts will be felt on national and regional economies, livelihoods, and the environment.

Africa is particularly vulnerable where the occurrence of multi-hazard events is likely to amplify disasters. Egypt is taking the lead towards addressing the challenges brought by the unpredictable weather patterns which could become a blueprint for many African countries.

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