Although many countries claim to have a space programme, only only three per cent of the world’s countries have an active space agency. Kenya is the fourth country in Africa to have one after Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa.
Though not known to many, Kenya has a space agency, which is the successor to the National Space Secretariat. The Kenya Space Agency was established by President Uhuru Kenyatta through a March 2017 gazette notice. However, space activities in the country began in the 1960s, with the establishment of a Satellite Launching and Tracking Base in Malindi. It was a collaboration between Kenya and Italy. Over 20 sounding rockets and nine satellites have been launched from the facility over the years.
Some of the world’s biggest space agencies include NASA (the American space agency), CNSA (the Chinese National Space Agency), Roscosmos (Russian space agency), ESA (the European Space Agency — a consortium of national space agencies of several European countries), ISRO (the Indian Space Research Organisation) and JAXA (the Japanese space agency).
In Kenya, the space agency is mandated to coordinate and regulate space-related activities in the country. John Njoroge, the Kenya Space Agency acting director general, said, “It is our mandate to implement the Kenya space policy and any related programmes and recommend and advise the government on the development of relevant legislation to facilitate the successful implementation of the Kenya space programme.”
He further said their mandate also includes advising the government on the legislative and other measures necessary for the implementation of the relevant conventions, treaties and agreements that Kenya is a party to.“We are supposed to recommend national space policies, strategies and programmes, promote capacity building in space science and technology and its applications and establish centers of excellence in space science,” he said.