Addis Ababa unveils space programme

The first phase of Ethiopia's space exploration programme has been launched at an observatory high in the Entono mountains on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

The $3.4 million observatory contains two powerful metre-wide telescopes and is run by the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS), which was established in 2004 and is funded by Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Mohammed Alamoudi.

As part of ongoing government plans to develop a space policy, Ethiopia will launch its first satellite in the next three years, to study meteorology and boost telecommunications, according to the ESSS.

The observatory's director Solomon Belay believes that science is key to economic development in Ethiopia, adding that over the next few years the centre will engage in research and data collection as well as promoting astronomy on a local and regional level.