ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday said the launch of Ethiopia's Chinese-backed maiden satellite, dubbed ETRSS-1, into space from a space center in China has marked the start of a historic moment in Ethiopia's quest towards the development of space science sector.
"Congratulations to all Ethiopian nationals as we launched our country's first-ever satellite today," Ahmed said in a televised address to the nation upon the launch of the East African country's maiden satellite to space, adding that "I believe that this satellite, which was registered as the first-ever satellite to be launched to orbit in our country's history, will not be the last as it will be followed by many others in the future."
Ahmed also stressed that the Chinese-backed satellite "will play a crucial role in modernizing our agriculture sector by creating conducive environment through the provision of scientific data and knowledge. It will also inject a much-needed capacity for our country to compete and penetrate African and global market."
The Ethiopian premier, noting that China has provided funding support for the project, said the project has transferred knowledge to Ethiopian experts who have been able to take part "from design to production" in the satellite project.
Noting that the East African country had been forced to purchase satellite data and image from others due to lack of dedicated Ethiopian satellite thus far, Ahmed stressed that the latest launched satellite "will enable us to carefully follow large-scale projects across the country."
"It will also provide our country with tailored metrological data, which will enable us to undertake our development initiatives based on scientific data and knowledge," he added.
Ahmed also assured that his government will fast-track its engagement in the space sector with the launch of the satellite.
The wide-range multispectral remote-sensing microsatellite was sent into space by a Long March-4B carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China's Shanxi Province.
In the early hours of Friday, senior government officials, diplomats, space engineers, as well as other dignitaries and residents of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, attended the event organized to follow the launch of the satellite at the Entoto Space Observatory Facility, located on the hill of Entoto on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.
The satellite is expected to monitor the environment and weather patterns for better agricultural planning, drought early warning, mining activities and forestry management of the country.