Egyptian President Marshal Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has just completed his official visit to the Emirate of Qatar. It is the first time that the Raïs has set foot in the wealthy Gulf country since coming to power in June 2014, after the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations in January 2021.
This trip to Doha, the capital of Qatar, comes after El-Sisi made major cabinet changes led since June 2018 by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbuly.
The reshuffle of the government team carried out in mid-August aims to stem the unstoppable rise in food and commodity prices, the loss in value against the US dollar of Egypt’s currency – the Egyptian pound, which is equivalent to 5 euro cents – and fight against inflation which already exceeds 13%.
The Raïs has sought in Qatar the destination of the 5 billion dollars of investments that the leader of the Gulf country, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has expressed his willingness to invest to support the Egyptian economy during his visit to Cairo last June, in order to help clean up the country’s public accounts.
To accelerate the country’s economic development and ensure national security, one of the sectors that President El-Sisi wants to strengthen is the space industry. So, just days after the changes in the ministerial team, the first step in this direction was to appoint Professor Sherif Mohamed Sedky as the new Executive Director of the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA).
A space city under construction
In political and scientific circles in the Egyptian capital, it is understood that the appointment of the scientist who now heads EgSA is an expression of the Rais’ desire to strengthen relations with the Biden administration, NASA and the American space industry. . Without forgetting the pursuit of ambitious new projects that will give Egyptian society a sense of national pride..
Until his appointment, Professor Sherif Sedky was the rector of the American University in Cairo, the country’s most prestigious private higher education institution. He began teaching in 1999 as a professor of engineering at Cairo University and continued as a researcher and visiting professor at Stanford University and the Catholic University of Louvain.
In 2003, he launched the Center for Design and Fabrication of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems at the American University in Cairo, which subsequently appointed him Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research Affairs. He was also director of the Yusef Jameel Center for Science and Technology.
The guidelines given to him are “maximize value” the national spatial fabric and the important work inherited from his predecessor, Professor Mohamed El-Qousi, first head of the EgSA. The main project he passes on to his successor is the “Egypt Space City”, a 5,000 square meter mega-complex built on the outskirts of Cairo and consisting of 23 buildings.
It will house the Egyptian Space Academy, a research center, a museum and a library, a satellite monitoring and control center and several buildings for the design, development, manufacture and integration of space platforms. . Although construction won’t be complete until at least 2026the opening is scheduled for the end of this year, with half a dozen buildings completed, one of which will house the headquarters of the African Space Agency.
Agreements with agencies from a wide range of countries
With major joint projects with agencies in China, Russia, France, South Africa and even Ukraine, Egypt’s rapprochement with the United States in the space field has continued since the middle of the last decade. One of the first steps was an agreement between EgSA and NASA to train Egyptian engineers in the process of manufacturing small spacecraft.
Another materialized on January 21, 2020, when the main Egyptian satellite communications operator, NileSat, signed a launch contract with the American company SpaceX to put the NileSat 301 into orbit. The 3.9-ton, 32 Ku-band and six Ka-band transponders were launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida on June 6 by a Falcon 9 rocket.
The new director of the EgSA must also carry out the pan-African project called African Development Satellite Initiative (AfDev-Sat), which the Egyptian agency has been leading since 2021. It is a training program in satellite technologies in which Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Sudan. It aims to create a multinational cooperation framework capable of generating the necessary capacities so that African countries can build their own small satellites and not depend on third countries..
Another initiative of which EgSA is the main beneficiary – in collaboration with the Kenyan and Ugandan space agencies – is Bartolomeo, un program promoted by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)whose director is the Italian Simonetta Di Pippo, to allow access to space for developing nations.
Bartolomeo wants engineers from the three African agencies to develop a camera system on board the International Space Stationwhose images should help detect adverse weather conditions and phenomena in an attempt to alleviate food insecurity in agriculture in parts of Africa.
Two other activities were recently highlighted by EgSA. One of them is in collaboration with the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology. This is the Egyptian Space Startup Center, which is part of the National Technology Incubator Launch Program (INTILAC) of the Academy of Science and Technology. The other is a three-month program for engineers and final year students to introduce them to the field of space technologies.