Earth observation from space is a cost-effective way of obtaining crucial and unbiased data to enable decision-makers understand trends and evaluate needs to create sustainable development policies. Hence, satellite technology could provide Mauritius with a way to mitigate typical challenges of middle income Small Island Developing States.
This statement was made today by the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, at the opening ceremony of a workshop focusing on the Potential of Satellite-based Data for government and business. The one-day event is being held at the Le Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, Caudan, in Port Louis.
It is a common initiative of the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the United States Embassy in Mauritius. The workshop is being led by experts from DigitalGlobe, a US company which has expertise in sophisticated commercial satellites. Discussions are focusing on: Geospatial applications for agriculture and the environment; Location intelligence for telecommunications and the Internet of Things; Maritime domain awareness, defense and intelligence and fisheries; and, Challenges for Mauritius.
In his address, the Minister stated that Mauritius has the potential to tap into the opportunities offered by satellite technologies and data. The Republic of Mauritius was awarded the first prize of the KiboCUBE programme by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in June 2018.
Hence, Mr Sawmynaden pointed out, that Mauritius has been granted a free launch for its first Mauritian Nanosatellite, the MIR-SAT1, from earth to the International Space Station (ISS) and free deployment into space. It is the first satellite that has been designed, will be built, tested and operated by Mauritians. This Cube Satellite will be equipped with a long-wave infrared camera and a high speed data transmitter and this project will make Mauritius a spacefaring nation in 2019, he emphasised.
Speaking about satellite imagery, the Minister indicated that it has found a place in everyday lives, but satellite imagery is more than just a curiosity. It is easier than ever to use this technology for many applications from construction to natural disaster recovery, he said. The Minister referred to hurricane Katrina, during which satellite imagery was used to help coordinate rescue efforts. The US authorities compared images taken before the disaster to images taken after to help determine where features as roads and homes used to be located, he highlighted.
Nowadays many industries, including state and local agencies, engineering and construction companies, use satellite imagery and satellite data as an essential part of their jobs, the Minister added.
For his part, the US Ambassador to Mauritius, Mr David Reimer, observed that this is one of those events that looks deep in the future, a future in which Mauritius achieves its goal of becoming a regional innovation hub. A place, he said, where tech start-ups comes to set up shop, a place where inventors and investors from throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean region come to run projects in a game-changing technology setup which is beginning to reshape our lives which include Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Virtual and Augmented Reality to name just a few.
According to Ambassador Reimer, this is the future that the US supports and expressed hope for more high-tech US companies to come to Mauritius in order to do business in Africa. One game-changing technology that is already a multibillion dollar industry globally but which is relatively new in Mauritius is the use of satellite data in everyday lives, he indicated. US companies are among the world leaders in turning satellite data into useful information and raising awareness here in Mauritius about the range of uses of satellite data in everyday lives is a step towards that future as an innovation hub, he emphasised.