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Young African women design Africa's first private satellite

Young African women design Africa's first private satellite

Space science

The perception that African women do not actively venture in maths and science is being challenged.

Young women drawn from about 6 African countries met in Capetown, South Africa and they are the next generation of space researchers.

With precision, they worked on programming and building rovers as part of an initiative to get school girls across Africa, to help send the continent’s first privately owned satellite into space.

The satellite is going to have a polar orbit meaning its going to go over Africa and they want to focus particularly on Africa and the problems they will be facing in ten years time.

They have big dreams for the future.

“Well the most thing I want to achieve is having a planet named after me, that’s the most thing that I want to achieve and probably work for NASA, or actually build my own company just like NASA,” said Loyisile Dlomo, a student.

The programme, run by the Meta Economic Development Organisation (MEDO), is the first of its kind on the continent. They focused on girls because research indicates that less than 10 percent of young women in Africa are currently interested in studying science subjects in higher education.

The young women involved in the project are keen on solving challenges affecting the continent.

“The young women decided to study agriculture and food security over Africa. So the satellite is going to have a polar orbit, meaning its going to go over Africa and they want to focus particularly on Africa and the problems they will be facing in ten years time”, said Carla de Klerk the programme manager at MEDO.

While the ultimate goal is to produce a raft of female engineers, more ground work needs to be done in the continent. MEDO says that 80 percent of jobs will need Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills by the year 2020.

The satellite which is expected to launch later this year, will go right over Africa for about six weeks, literally connecting the continent and collecting valuable information.

Reuters