Nov 21 , 2018

Sample picture of the ground station with an antenna subsystem, data recording, archiving system, image processing system and application subsystem to be build at the premises of Entoto observatory and research center.

Eight international companies are bidding to supply a multi-mission earth observation satellite receiver and tracking equipment for the Ethiopian Space Science & Technology Institute. The satellite receivers will be used for data acquisition, archiving, processing, analysis and distribution.

The bid was floated on July 31, 2018, and opened two months later in early October. While 36 international companies expressed interest by purchasing bid documents, only nine firms submitted technical and financial offers.

During the technical evaluation phase of the bid, one of the competitors was disqualified due to insufficiencies in bidding procedures, while eight other companies progressed to the financial evaluation.

Results of the financial evaluation were announced on November 8, 2018, when China Centre for Resources Satellite Data and Application (CRESDA) offered the lowest bid price of 140.4 million Br for the equipment. The Chinese firm was established in 1991 under the supervision of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which specialises in remote sensing satellites data acquisition and processing technology.

Two South Koeran firms, Satrec Initiative and KT Consortium; four other Chinese companies, Poly Technologies, China Great Wall Industry Corporation, Hiwing Mechanical & Electrical Equipment Corporation and CRESDA; an Israeli firm, Avorniga Technology; and the Italian firm e-Geos E.P.A. were the finalists.

The lowest bid received from CRESDA is almost four times lower than the highest bid offer of e-Geos E.P.A.

"The winner will be announced in three weeks time," Abera Ayele, chairperson of the tender committee, told Fortune.

The satellite receiver will enable the country to access high-resolution centralised data from other in-orbit satellites, according to Yilkal Chane, director of Satellite Research, Development and Operation.

“The receiver will help us monitor the environment, natural resources, climate change and infrastructure safety,” Yilkal said. “It also can be used as an early warning system in case of emergencies.”

Ethiopia is planning to launch its first 70Kg earth observation satellite into orbit in September 2019. The design, development and manufacturing of the spacecraft have been done in collaboration with the Chinese companies at a cost of eight million dollars. China provides financing for six million dollars and training.

Twenty Ethiopian aerospace engineers are involved in the satellite project. The Ethiopian engineers developed the preliminary design, according to Solomon Belay (PhD), director general of the Institute. The institute was established in 2016 to realise the nation's satellite project efforts, develop space policy and strategy and deliver education.

The institute has trained 60 PhDs and 20 MScs since its inception in 2014 at its observatory and research centre atop Entoto Mountain, North of Addis Abeba. The centre focuses on research and postgraduate training for masters and doctoral degree programs in astronomy, space science, remote sensing and geodesy, the science that accurately measures and understands earth properties.

Getnet Mewa (PhD), with three decades of experience in research and education at the Addis Abeba University Institute of Geophysics, Space Science and Astronomy, lauds the activities performed by the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre as well as the Institute in enhancing the capacity and technology of space science.

"For sustainable development in space science and technology, the ICT infrastructure and the financial input should grow more," he argued. "The institute also needs to create a conducive working environment that reduces the turnover rate of professionals."

PUBLISHED ON Nov 21,2018 [ VOL 19 , NO 969]

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